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Witness protection scheme to launch

The first UK-wide witness protection scheme is to be launched tomorrow to help secure convictions and care for vulnerable witnesses.

More than 3,000 individuals with a real and immediate risk to their lives will get expert protection under the UK Protected Persons Service, victims' minister Helen Grant said.

The national service, which comes into force on Monday, will apply to the likes of victims and witnesses of tragedies like the Morecambe Bay disaster in Lancashire and the murder of Rhys Jones in Liverpool.

Ms Grant said: " People who put their lives at risk to bring dangerous criminals to justice are the unsung heroes of society - they deserve our thanks and protection.

"That's why the UK Protected Persons Service is so important, it will give brave individuals the expert support they deserve no matter where they are in the country."

Last year, just over one in four of collapsed prosecutions were as a result of witness or victim reticence to give evidence.

In 2009/10 18% of witnesses who attended court to give evidence reported that they or their family felt intimidated at some point and 40% reported concerns about coming into contact with the defendant and their supporters.

Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) lead for protected persons Deputy Chief Constable,Andy Cooke said: " Chief Constables across the country are convinced of the need for a coordinated and standardised approach.

"That is why they are devoting resources to this new national service which will bring the good practice of some areas to the whole country."


From Belfast Telegraph