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Offences against Children

Question for Ministry of Justice

UIN 221914, tabled on 23 January 2015

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, if he will review the cross examination of witnesses in child abuse prosecutions.

Answered on

24 March 2015

The Ministry of Justice conducted a review of ways to reduce distress that some victims suffer from cross-examination in trials of sexual violence. For the purposes of the review, sexual violence was an umbrella term which covered offences charged under sexual offences legislation as well as other legislation that deals with abuse and exploitation of children and vulnerable people. The review included current day and historical offending so that victims of all ages and types were considered.

A report of the review was published in March 2014 on the government website and is available at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/report-on-review-of-ways-to-reduce-distress-of-victims-in-trials-of-sexual-violence.

In September last year, we published Our Commitment to Victims which included plans to protect vulnerable victims and witnesses in court. Measures outlined include giving vulnerable witnesses greater opportunity to give evidence from a location away from the courtroom, rolling out pre-trial recorded cross-examination for child victims (subject to the evaluation of pilots) and requiring publicly-funded advocates in cases involving serious sexual offences to undertake specialist training on dealing with vulnerable people. The latter was a recommendation from the review.