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Making a difference

Our work has a real impact across several key areas

1. On detained people in court custody

Appearing in court is a particularly vulnerable time for those in the criminal justice system, many of whom may not be guilty of the crime they are on trial for. Lay Observers monitor whether those in court custody are being treated with respect and decency and whether their welfare is being properly protected, and report when this is not the case.

2. On individual courts and staff

Lay Observers write reports after each visit and attend regular meetings with regional stakeholders. This provides opportunities to raise issues of concern and empowers court managers with knowledge and evidence of what is happening on the ground so they can implement the changes needed to improve the situation. These can also help those working in court custody as the welfare and safety of court staff contributes to a better court custody experience for all.

3. On the wider court system

Often Lay Observers uncover issues that are not being dealt with effectively within local courts. Concerns are escalated to senior officials so that action can be taken safely and promptly.

4. On government ministers and the public

The National Chair produces an annual report for the Secretary of State which identifies key themes and highlights issues to provide an overall picture of the court system in England and Wales.