Vulnerable victims in Snaresbrook Crown Court to be given new protections

Vulnerable victims and witnesses will be able to give pre-recorded testimony at Snaresbrook Crown Co

Vulnerable victims and witnesses will be able to give pre-recorded testimony at Snaresbrook Crown Court starting today. Picture: PA/John Stillwell - Credit: PA

Vulnerable victims and witnesses will be spared the trauma of attending court and will have the option to pre-record their evidence as new technology rolls out across courtrooms including Snaresbrook Crown Court.

Snaresbrook Crown Court.

Snaresbrook Crown Court. - Credit: Archant

The new technology started on Monday (August 24) which allows vulnerable witnesses and victims to have their cross-examination video-recorded earlier in the process and played during the trial.

This is to ensure they can provide their best evidence, away from the courtroom which many can find intimidating.

The recording is carried out as close to the time of the offence as possible in order to help memory recall, and reduce the stress of giving evidence to a full courtroom at trial.

The decision to pre-record evidence is made by judges on a case-by-case basis.

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There are 16 crown courts across London and Kent which started pre-recording evidence today, following a successful pilot in Liverpool, Leeds and Kingston-upon-Thames.

In November, a Primark security guard from Kingston-upon-Thames was jailed after the four girls he sexually assaulted gave their evidence in a pre-recorded session prior to the trial taking place.

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The victims were spared having to tell the story of their horrific abuse in front of the perpetrator, who showed no remorse for his actions.

Justice Minister MP Alex Chalk said: “Vulnerable victims show great courage by coming forward, and it’s vital they can do so in the least traumatic way possible.

“This technology ensures they are protected and are able to give their best possible evidence, without reducing a defendant’s right to a fair trial.

“But this is just one part of our efforts to boost the support on offer for victims at every stage of the justice system, which includes consulting on a Victims’ Law.”

Victims who have already used the system in other courtrooms have given feedback that they’ve felt less pressure and they were better able to recall events.

Vulnerable witnesses are defined as all child witnesses under 18 and any witness whose quality of evidence is likely to be diminished because they are suffering from a mental disorder or physical disability or has significant impairment of intelligence and social functioning.

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