Witness Confident is the independent charity that is taking a stand against the walk-on-by culture and campaigning for a more enlightened criminal justice system. We launched on 9 September 2009 (9/9/9) and our plan is to have inititiated cultural, legal and practical changes that will within the decade reduce the level of violent and serious crimes by 20%.
Witness Confident is a registered charity (no 1131106) and a limited company (no 6917476) in England & Wales. We have also been designated a legal advice centre by the Bar Standards Board.
Our chair is Neil Svensen (design & communications), his deputy is Shonali Routray (law & whistleblowing) and our other trustees are Richard Barron (sociology & community engagement), Ian Harley (policing & business) and Anthony Heaton-Armstrong (barrister & author on witness evidence). George Gross (a defence solicitor) acts as our adviser.
The work is led by our director, Guy Dehn (barrister & policy practitioner). Our communications officer is Adam Evans, our development officer is Geoff Tibbs and our company secretary is Andrea Parry. Martin Kolar and Ricardo Llop do the difficult IT.
Thanks also to our excellent pro bono supporters: Rufus Leonard who advise on our design, brand and website; and law firm Mayer Brown who advise on intellectual property, privacy and corporate structures.
Guy Dehn had the first inkling for a project like Witness Confident in the summer of 2008 shortly after he left Public Concern at Work, the whistleblowing charity, that he had helped found and ran since 1993. Initial consultations with people familiar with the criminal justice system indicated that the witness issue was an elephant in the room – a problem so big that people could not see it. At the same time the Tory thinktank Reform warned that Britain was becoming a nation of passive bystanders “where people feel increasingly incapable and unconfident to maintain the rule of law themselves, instead abdicating responsibility to a remote and technocratic criminal justice system” and a report by Louise Casey for the then Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, began “Crime is tackled most effectively when the law-abiding majority stand together against the minority who commit it”. The first outline proposal for a charity to address this issue in practice was drafted on 7th September 2008 and, a year later, on 9/9/9, we launched.
The Nuffield Foundation provided a three year start-up grant. Other trusts who have funded this work include the Allen Lane Foundation, the Hilden Trust, the Wates Foundation and the Wyseliot Trust. Individuals and organisations, including Google, have also provided welcome support and continue to.