Video Evidence Rolled Out To Protect Child Abuse Victims From Courtroom Trauma

Children In Abuse Claims To Pre-Record Evidence


Andrew Robinson, Press Officer | 0113 218 6463
Victims of child abuse will now be able to provide evidence to courts through pre-recorded videos in a bid to prevent them being subjected to the trauma of appearing in court in person and being cross-examined in public.

A pilot scheme at three crown courts around the UK, which allowed two lawyers to question young witnesses and victims while a judge watched, will now be rolled out nationally.

During the pilot scheme, evidence given by young victims and witnesses was played to the jury. The method was used in a number of convictions and also led to several defendants changing their plea to guilty after seeing the footage.

Alison Mutch, the deputy chief crown prosecutor for CPS Mersey-Cheshire, which runs the scheme at Liverpool Crown Court, told The Times: “I watched one case where a four-year-old child was questioned. I don't think she would even have been aware of what was going on. It was a pleasant room in the court building with a sofa and toys.”

As well as sparing victims the trauma of appearing in court personally, Ms Mutch said the use of video evidence will enable witnesses to give evidence before the trial, when their memories are fresh.

Expert Opinion
New methods of giving evidence, such as the use of video testimony, are very welcome. The welfare of victims and witnesses must always be a top priority and the use of recorded evidence will spare them the trauma of being cross examined in a court room, in front of a jury and the defendant.

“Child abuse can cause long-lasting psychological effects. Giving evidence in the traditional way can often re traumatise victims and cause the witness to relive the trauma. Vulnerable witnesses need to be put at the centre of the process and given help and support during court proceedings and beyond.

“The use of video evidence will ensure victims feel able to speak out about the abuse they suffered and that those responsible are held to account.”
Tracey Storey, Partner