Guideline committee

Initial accounts of victims and witnesses

The College of Policing will develop guidance on how to elicit the best initial account from a victim or witness. The guidance will be based on the law and the best available evidence, including empirical research and practitioner consensus. It will make recommendations that are operationally practicable and be presented in clear and concise language.

The aim of the guidance will be to improve the effectiveness of evidence collection through eliciting initial accounts from victims or witnesses, as well as maximising the value of the information for any subsequent investigation and criminal justice process. Along with the police service, therefore, the guidance will benefit:

  • victims and witnesses
  • other criminal justice practitioners, eg, Crown Prosecution Service, HM Courts & Tribunal Service defence advocates
  • the general public.

To inform the development of the guidance, a systematic review of relevant research evidence will be conducted. The review questions are as follows:

  • What works in eliciting quality information from victims and witnesses in pressurised or dynamic environments?
  • What factors affect the quality of information provided by victims and witnesses?

A detailed case-law search will be required to identify any material relevant to initial accounts of victims and witnesses. This will be used to research two further questions:

  • What factors associated with victim and witness interviews affect the outcomes of investigations?
  • What factors relating to police contact with victims and witnesses affect attrition in criminal prosecutions?

Click here for a copy of the scope.

For any queries regarding this pilot, email us on

Page last accessed 24 August 2019