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Section 32 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 permitted child witnesses under the age of 14 years in the case of offences of violence or cruelty, and child witnesses under 17 years of age in sex-offence cases, to give evidence by way of live link, so that they can give evidence from outside the courtroom. The availability of live links was extended by the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 to all witnesses who are under 17 years of age. The legislation includes presumptions that live links will be used for young witnesses, particularly in cases of sexual or violent offences.
There are now video-link rooms in all Crown Court centres and in 77 per cent of all magistrates' courts. Her Majesty's Courts Service has allocated £2 million this financial year to upgrade equipment in the Crown Court and the magistrates' courts and, where required, provide a small amount of new equipment in the Crown Court and magistrates' courts.