Victim Witness Care Unit

Tuesday 19th March 2024

A year after its formation, we look at how the Defence Victim Witness Care Unit (VWCU) supports victims and witnesses of serious crime during their journey through the Service Justice System.

Here to support

Whether you’re in the Armed Forces or a civilian, the VWCU is here to support you. If you’ve been affected as a victim or witness of serious crime committed by Service personnel in the UK or abroad, we are here to help.

Independent from the Army, Navy, and RAF chains of command, the unit is made up of specially trained civilian Victim Liaison Officers (VLOs) who act as supportive guides throughout the Service Justice System – from reporting a crime, to the investigation, and any subsequent court martial and outcomes.

Each referral to the VWCU is allocated a VLO as their primary contact who will remain with them throughout the process, ensuring they are supported in accordance with the code of practice for victims of crime (JSP 839).

Making a positive difference

The unit was formed on 16 March 2023, within the Defence Serious Crime Command, following independent reviews of the Service Justice System, which identified a need for consistency in the level of support offered to victims and vulnerable witnesses of crime across Defence.

Following a recent visit to the VWCU, Minister for Defence People and Families, Rt Hon Dr Andrew Murrison MP said:

“Having heard first-hand from the VWCU’s Victim Liaison Officers about their experiences and views on improving support, it is clear that their work is having a positive impact, as is reflected by feedback from people who have used the service.

“This independent and dedicated service is vital to reforming the Service Justice System, and I thank everyone involved for their commitment to stand with victims and witnesses of serious crime.”

VWCU Director, Nina Slocombe said:

“Over the past 12 months, we have supported over 560 victims and witnesses within the Service Justice System.

“Our Victim Liaison Officers bring a wealth of invaluable skills and experience, with backgrounds in social work, mental health support, domestic abuse support, domestic abuse advocacy, military service, and Home Office and Service police roles.

“We are committed to providing a high-quality – end to end – support service, which is tailored to individual needs and really does place the wellbeing of victims and witnesses at the centre of everything we do.”

Partnership working

The VWCU has received positive feedback through partnership working within the Service Justice System and alongside specialist external organisations, such as Aurora New Dawn – a charity that supports survivors of domestic abuse, sexual violence, and stalking.

Judge Advocate General, His Honour Judge, Alan Large:

“The dedication and professionalism of the VWCU team is impressive. From my discussions with vulnerable victims, it is clear to me that they receive significant and tailored support from the outset of a sometimes long road to trial.

“I have no doubt that the VWCU’s work encourages victims to stay the course and helps equip them to give their best evidence. The Service Justice System is very well served by the bespoke service provided by the VWCU.”

Service Prosecuting Authority (SPA) Sexual Offences Lead Prosecutor, Nina Maisuria:

“The VWCU’s positive contribution to improving continuity of care and information provided is testament to their commitment to ensure victims and witnesses remain at the heart of the work we do.

“In the SPA, we look forward to further developing our effective working relationship with the VWCU and collectively improving the standard of support and service we provide to victims and witnesses.”

Director of Military Court Service, Cleaven Faulkner:

“I have observed VWCU staff, both in person and via remote communication, providing compassion, understanding, and unwavering support to victims. This, whilst in most cases a mere snapshot, is undoubtedly making a real difference to the support and healing process.

“The VWCU team are always willing to go that extra mile to help where they can, and it inspires me to see that we have such caring individuals that want to make a real difference.”

Aurora New Dawn:

“We have developed a great working relationship with the VWCU over the past year. As a specialist support service, having a named link to provide updates on police investigations and court dates has been well received by our team and has been beneficial for many of the clients we support.

“The VWCU recognises the importance of specialist support in cases of domestic abuse and sexual violence, working closely with services like ours to ensure that every victim can access a holistic and consistent package of support.

“We very much welcome the ongoing development of the unit, alongside other positive changes we can see happening within the Service Justice System, and we look forward to continuing our partnership work with the VWCU.”

More information

If you need support, help, or guidance, contact the Victim Witness Care Unit.

For more information, visit:

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