CONSULTATION ON BEST WAY TO SUPPORT CHILD WITNESSES

Views are being sought on the best way to spare child witnesses from having to give evidence during criminal trials.

Falkirk West MSP Michael Matheson is encouraging people to share their opinions on how a model for pre-recording evidence could work best for Scotland.

The Scottish Government’s vision is that all child witnesses will have their evidence recorded as early as possible. While the initial focus is on child witnesses, any new model will be flexible enough to accommodate vulnerable adult witnesses in future.

Launching the consultation, Justice Secretary Mr Matheson said: “Giving evidence to a court can be extremely difficult and emotional for anyone, particularly a child or vulnerable witness.

“Making sure those witnesses feel safe, secure and able to share their account of events effectively not only protects them from ongoing risk but helps them give the best evidence. That is why we are seeking views on reforms that would stop children having to give evidence in court during a criminal trial.

“This is a positive step in the right direction to protect the most vulnerable. It’s also an ambitious aim and it’s likely to take time to fully achieve. But I believe it is vital and necessary that we make this important change while also ensuring that the rights of the accused are maintained.”

The Scottish Government is already working with partners to encourage earlier pre-recording of evidence as part of the joint investigative interview process.
To take part in the consultation, go to consult.scotland.gov.uk/criminal-justice/pre-recorded-evidence-for-criminal-trials/