The West Midlands has become the first metropolitan area in the UK to be fully covered by units designed to help guide witnesses through the criminal court process.
Following the success of a pilot scheme in 2003 ten Witness Care Units have been set up to offer help to witnesses with the aim of bringing more offenders to justice.
The units, which involve the Crown Prosecution Service and the police, provide a single point of contact, with officers to steer them through the process and co-ordinate relevant support and services.
Witnesses are given a full needs assessment in cases where defendants have pleaded not guilty, to identify requirements such as child care, transport, language difficulties and medical issues and to highlight concerns, including intimidation.
Superintendent Patrick Mulligan, head of Child and Adult Protection at West Midlands Police's Crime Support unit, said: "Before these units were set up, one of the main concerns expressed by witnesses was that they felt they were not kept informed about what was going on and the outcome of the case.
"The new units help to keep them at the centre of proceedings, giving them access to help and support throughout the criminal justice process and beyond. By enhancing the provision of witness care, we are also helping to bring more offenders to justice."
Witness Care Units are just one of the initiatives set up by the Local Criminal Justice Board, which is raising awareness of its work as part of Inside Justice Week this week, a free week of events giving the public the chance to see the behind the scenes of the criminal justice system.