Victims Commissioner Dame Vera Baird released a review last week into the current provision of special measures for vulnerable and intimidated witness in the court system. Currently, some victims, including those of the most serious sexual offences such as rape, are at risk of coming face-to-face with defendants because courts are not set up to deliver the protections the law provides for them while giving evidence.
The review highlights the insufficient use of special measures in our courts, and the inadequacies in access to these measures.
Recommendations in the report include the use of early-stage video interviews and cross examination for witnesses to help avoid distressing court delays for survivors.
Dame Vera said:
“I am calling for all victims of sexual crimes to be allowed to give evidence and be cross-examined by video, at an early stage while their memory is fresh. Then they are free to take therapy if they need it and to get on with their lives since the video evidence would be their evidence in court.
“With some crimes from last year unlikely to reach court before 2022 or later, this could spare thousands of potentially traumatised victims a long and anxious wait.”
To read more and to access the full report, visit the Victims Commissioner website.