A 17 year old girl is shot in a South London nightclub called SE8. The club is filled with witnesses. Rita is positive that the police will find her daughter's murderer but they are met by a wall of silence. Donna, 17, was there. She saw the shooter. Donna also knows who the gang members are. She went to school with some of them.
Rita questions her daughter's friends and workers at the club. People are more willing to talk to a stranger. Donna wants to help but she's frightened. There is a witness protection programme but it's not 100% guaranteed. Rita persuades Donna to talk. She will be an anonymous witness in court. Gang members are arrested. But there is an error in disclosure. Something which may reveal Donna's identity to the defendant. And the night before the trail Donna goes missing. Will she speak out? Will she survive if she does?
The drama is intercut with recreated interviews with ex-gang members.
SE8 was inspired by the deaths of Birmingham teenagers Charlene Ellis and Letisha Shakespeare in 2003 and Magda Pniewskain 2007. Anonymous witnesses were used to secure both convictions. Currently a judge can direct the jury to discount anonymous witness statements if, for example, they have a relationship to the accused e.g,. knew each other at school. SE8 is not only about individual courage but also about the shaky legal framework that is supposed to protect it.
The writer, Janice Okoh grew up in South London. She has written two plays for Radio 4: A Short Ride to Dusseldorf and From Lagos with Love.
Cast: Rita Hayes - Julia Ford, Donna Brissett - Ashley Madekwe, John Hayes- Tony Bell, Mark Atkinson - Michael Shelford, Tyrell Deakins - Darren Hart, Dave Roberts - Lloyd Thomas. Directed by Claire Grove.