Child Witnesses

Solicitor-General written question – answered on 24th February 2005.

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Photo of Jim Cunningham Jim Cunningham Labour, Coventry South

To ask the Solicitor-General what steps the Crown Prosecution Service takes to prevent trauma suffered by children serving as witnesses at trials.

Photo of Harriet Harman Harriet Harman Solicitor General (Law Officers), Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

Crown Prosecutors work closely with the police and other agencies to ensure that children, receive the help and support they need to cope with the court process and to assist them to give their best evidence through a range of special measures, including the use of screens, giving evidence in private, video recorded evidence in chief, live TV links, and the removal of wigs and gowns.

The introduction of witness care units across the country will further improve the experience for children. These will offer a single point of contact for witnesses, parents and carers, and a detailed needs assessment will be carried out to identify a witness's specific support requirements. A tailored support system can then be provided to them.

In relation, to child witnesses, witness care units can be expected to support children by, for example, arranging pre-trial court visits, providing an explanation as to what will happen in court, arranging a home visit, providing safe and easy access to court on the day of trial and also making contact with the local, school if there are difficulties in that regard.

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