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Supplying statements to witnesses

1. If a witness requests that you provide them with a copy of his/her witness statement, you should normally comply with the request.

2. However, you have a discretion to refuse to provide a copy of the statement in circumstances where this would be likely to interfere with the course of justice 1 ,2. Such situations might arise where the statement is sought to enable the witness to lie consistently or where others are bringing pressure on the witness to obtain a copy of the statement with a view to persuading him/her to change what s/he said 3.

3. You should be careful not to provide statements to witnesses in circumstances which enable them to compare with one another what each has said. If there are grounds to believe that a witness will pass his/her statement to any other person (especially a suspect or representative of a suspect), you will need to consider whether this may interfere with the course of justice. If so, you may use your discretion to refuse to provide a copy of the statement at that time.

4. Copies of a witness statement should only be given to the maker of the statement.

5. When a solicitor for the employer attends your interview with a witness (see the section Witness statements for guidance on this situation), you may be asked to provide the solicitor with a copy of the witness statement you take. You will need to consider this request carefully. You have the discretion set out in the paragraphs above to refuse such a request or delay providing a copy of the statement.

6. You may consider it inappropriate in many cases to provide a copy of the statement to anyone, including the witness, at the time of the interview for the reasons set out above. If, however, you are minded in the particular circumstances of the investigation to agree to providing a copy of the statement to the employer’s solicitor, you must also be satisfied that the witness freely consents to this and is not making the request under pressure from his/her employer or any other person. If you are not satisfied of this, you should not supply a copy of the statement at that time; you may instead consider sending a copy direct to the witness at his/her home address.

7. The Criminal Justice Act 2003 allows witnesses to take their statements into court for the purpose of refreshing their memory (see the section on Memory Refreshing in Exceptions to the Hearsay Rule) and a copy of a witness’s statement may be provided to him/her for this purpose before s/he gives evidence.

Footnotes

  1. R v Richardson (D) [1971] 2 QB 484 (CA); R v Skinner (Gary) [1994] 99 Cr App R 212 (CA); R v Roberts (Michael) [1998] 162 JP 691 (CA); R v Arif [1993] The Times, 17 June 1993 (CA).
  2. Under the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), HSE may refuse a “subject access” request to provide a witness with a copy of his/her statement where to comply with the request would be likely to prejudice the prevention or detection of crime, or the apprehension or prosecution of offenders (section 29(1) DPA) or where to do so would be likely to prejudice HSE’s functions for securing the health, safety and welfare of persons at work or for protecting persons not at work against risks to their health and safety from work activities (sections 31(1), (2)(e) and (f) DPA)
  3. Home Office Circular 82/1969
Updated 2014-03-06