Pete Martin from The Redditch Selfdefence Association is calling on the Probation Service to do more to help protect witnesses


3rd October 2017 -Redditch Advertiser

A REDDITCH group has taken its quest to help both victims and witnesses of violent crime to Whitehall.

The Redditch Selfdefence Association has stressed that more needs to be done to look at how witnesses of serious violent/sexual offences are treated.

During its interaction with witnesses as well as victims, the group, which meets at Redditch Community Boxing club in Matchborough Centre, has highlighted what it calls “shortfalls” in processes to protect witnesses.

Pete Martin, head of the association, said witnesses should be afforded the same assurances and support as victims, from the Probation Service.

As it stands the service is not mandated to provide any kind of service to witnesses – such as protection from violence or intimidation from offenders when they are released, or informing a witness when a prisoner is being released.

Mr martin, who was a witness to a crime himself, said: “I was listed in licence conditions but the Probation Service would not tell me what they were – this is ridiculous.

“If I was not friends with the victim I would not have been informed of any of the release conditions or release date.

“It is vital both victims and witnesses of life changing acts are looked after.

“The Probation Service has stated ‘as it currently stands we are not mandated to provide a distinct service to witnesses’.

“What we want is to try to change the way the Probation Service deals with victims and witnesses by providing more information to those involved at present. There is very little communication and the Probation Service will not communicate with witnesses.”

Mr Martin, who said that he has backing of Redditch MP Rachel Maclean and various Government bodies, added: “This is unfair and urgently needs to be changed.”

A spokesman from the the Ministry of Justice, which runs Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service, said: “Public protection is our top priority and there are a range of conditions that can be put in place to mitigate the risks and issues posed by an offender following their release into the community.

“The Government wants to make sure all vulnerable and intimidated witnesses can give their best evidence and help reduce the stress they face during cross examination.”