Court Experience for Victims and Witnesses

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 9th October 2018.

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Photo of Tom Pursglove Tom Pursglove Vice-Chair, Conservative Party 12:00 am, 9th October 2018

What steps the Government are taking to improve the court experience for victims and witnesses.

Photo of Edward Argar Edward Argar The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

On 10 September, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I published the first ever cross-Government victims strategy, reflecting the Government’s clear commitment to further support victims of crime. Central to the strategy are commitments to strengthen the victims code and develop legislation to underpin it, to continue ongoing work to improve the court environment, as the Under-Secretary of State for Justice, my hon. and learned Friend Lucy Frazer, has already set out, to increase the use of digitisation, to increase facilities for the use of video links, to improve provision for pre-recorded cross-examination for vulnerable witnesses and to raise awareness of the importance of the victim’s personal statement and opportunities for how it can be used.

Photo of Tom Pursglove Tom Pursglove Vice-Chair, Conservative Party

I am grateful to the Minister for that comprehensive answer. I know from some of my constituents about the stress, strain and emotional toll of having to repeatedly face those who have hurt them or their loved ones. What steps is his Department taking to support victims who find themselves having to repeatedly give victim impact statements?

Photo of Edward Argar Edward Argar The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

My hon. Friend takes a close interest in this area. I can entirely understand the impact on a victim of having to relive a crime multiple times. That is why the victim’s personal statement is hugely important. One of the measures that we are putting in place is the use of body-worn cameras to record the statement, which should help to reduce the number of times it needs to be made. Underpinning the strategy is the aim of reducing the number of people a victim has to interact with. If my hon. Friend wishes to highlight a specific case, I would be happy to meet him.

Photo of Ruth George Ruth George Labour, High Peak

What steps will the Minister be putting in place to support litigants in person, particularly those employees who have to take their employer to court to seek damages for personal injury at work under the raising of the small claims limit in the Civil Liability Bill?

Photo of Edward Argar Edward Argar The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

With regard to litigants in person—I am conscious that you might wish me to keep this answer short, Mr Speaker—we already spend well over £6 million supporting them, and we continue to look carefully at how they can continue to be supported.