You may decide that you do not want the criminal proceedings against the defendant to continue. If this is the case, you can contact the police officer dealing with your case and ask to make a withdrawal statement. You can ask an ISVA to support you through this process.

Making a withdrawal statement

In the withdrawal statement you will be asked to explain why you do not want the proceedings to continue. You may be anxious about giving evidence in court or be put under pressure to withdraw your support of the investigation or prosecution by others. You may be concerned about the impact of the investigation or trial on your health or wellbeing, or on your family. You may be in fear of the defendant or you may not have the information and support you need.
If you make a withdrawal statement the police will want to discuss with you why you want the proceedings to be stopped, particularly if you have been put under pressure, or fear, by the defendant or another person. If the defendant (or one of their friends or family members) has contacted you or threatened you, they may have breached his bail conditions. They (and their friends or family members if they contacted you) may also have committed further offences, such as interfering with a witness or perverting the course of justice. These serious criminal offences are designed to protect witnesses, and any contact or threats should be reported to the police. There are also a number of measures to support complainants through the criminal justice process (see Support for people who have experienced sexual violence).

The police may ask you whether the original statement that you made when you reported the offence was true

A person who gives incorrect or misleading information to the police can be charged with wasting police time or perverting the course of justice. If you are concerned that you may be investigated for an offence after withdrawing your support of a prosecution, you should seek legal advice, either from our criminal law advice line on 020 7251 8887 or a solicitor.

Will the case be dropped if I withdraw my statement?

Withdrawing your statement does not necessarily mean that the case against the defendant will be stopped. The police and CPS can continue the case even if you do not support it. Whether or not the investigation or court proceedings are stopped after you have made a withdrawal statement will depend on what stage your case is at and how much evidence there is against the suspect/ defendant.
When deciding whether or not to continue with a prosecution without your support the CPS will consider factors like your safety, the strength of the evidence against the defendant and the public interest in prosecuting them.
The CPS has a policy on the prosecution of rape that deals in more detail with the factors that the CPS will consider when deciding whether to continue with a prosecution. This policy is available here cps-policy-prosecuting-cases-rape

Think carefully and seek support if possible

If the CPS decide not to continue with a prosecution it is very unlikely that they will be able to re-start proceedings, so when making a withdrawal statement you need to be sure you do not want a prosecution to continue.
If the CPS decides to continue with a prosecution that you do not support they can either continue without your evidence (for example, by relying on the evidence of other witnesses) or compel you to attend court with a witness summons.

What is a witness summons?

A witness summons is a court order that forces someone to attend court and give evidence. A court will make the order following a request by either the CPS or defence. A witness summons must be served on you - delivered to your home or given to you personally.
A magistrates’ court or Crown Court will issue a witness summons if:
  • • the person against whom the summons is sought is a person likely to be able to give important evidence, or produce any document or thing likely to be material evidence for the criminal proceedings and
  • the court is satisfied that it is in the interests of justice to secure the attendance of that person.

What happens if I receive a witness summons?

If you receive a witness summons and do not attend court, a warrant may be issued for your arrest. You may then be arrested and brought to court. If the court finds that you do not have a reasonable excuse for not attending court when summonsed, you could face a fine or imprisonment.
If you receive a witness summons and want support you can contact your ISVA, local Rape Crisis centre or Rights of Women's criminal law advice line.