New technology which spares vulnerable victims and witnesses the trauma of attending court is now available in every Crown Court across England and Wales.
Available immediately, it allows the likes of children or those who suffer from a debilitating condition to have their cross-examination video-recorded and played during the trial. The recording takes place as close to the time of the offence as possible in order to help memory recall and reduce the stress of giving evidence in a courtroom setting, which many find intimidating.
More than 350 victims and witnesses have benefited from the technology since regional rollouts began earlier this year.
The completion of national implementation comes as a similar process is being piloted for victims of sexual and modern slavery offences at Crown Courts in Liverpool, Leeds, and Kingston-Upon-Thames. Subject to an evaluation, the measure could be introduced at other courts.
Justice Minister, Alex Chalk MP, said:
Andrew Penhale, Chief Crown Prosecutor and CPS lead for Section 28 said:
Dame Vera Baird QC, Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales added:
Any decision to pre-record evidence is made by a judge on a case-by case basis.
The move is part of the government’s wider efforts to improve the support on offer at every stage of the justice system. These include a new Victims’ Code published last week which outlines the key information and level of service they should receive from the police, courts and other criminal justice agencies.
Meanwhile, more than £76m has been made available to support the most vulnerable during the pandemic – with a further £11m recently provided to help rape and domestic abuse services cope with a spike in demand expected this winter.