Bristol

CCTV outside Bristol court to prevent intimidation

CCTV is being installed outside Bristol Crown Court in a bid to prevent witness and juror intimidation.

Research by Avon and Somerset Police has shown that while intimidation is rare, it does happen.

Det Isp Simon Wilstead said: "It is hard to establish the extent of the problem, as we have to rely heavily on anecdotal evidence.

"However, we know that, particularly in high-profile cases, it has and does occur."

CCTV is one of a range of measures being introduced.

'Contempt of court'

Posters are being displayed in and around the court, including in local cafes and transport links, reminding witnesses and jurors what to do if they are approached and asked to change their evidence or verdict.

Sugar packets carrying the same message have been placed in the jury's deliberation room.

Det Isp Wilstead said: "Although witnesses and jurors receive special guidance and support throughout the process, they are vulnerable to defendants trying to influence them.

"As well as the risk of criminals walking free and victims and their families not getting the justice they deserve, the witnesses and jurors themselves could find themselves in contempt of court, a criminal offence that carries a maximum two-year prison sentence.

"If they are ever approached, they must tell someone, whether a police officer, a court usher, your Witness Care Unit representative or the charity Crimestoppers."

The camera is being jointly funded by the police and the Safer Bristol Partnership.

Rick Palmer, the partnership's service director, said: "Safeguarding witnesses from intimidation is vital to ensure an effective criminal justice system."

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