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Witnesses

Question for Ministry of Justice

UIN 65194, tabled on 22 February 2017

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what role victim support services play in assisting victims to give their best evidence in court as witnesses, in particular victims of (a) domestic abuse, (b) a sexual offence, (c) human trafficking and (d) child sexual abuse and child sexual exploitation.

Answered on

2 March 2017

The Government is committed to making the process of going to court simpler, easier and more sympathetic to victims, to help them give their best possible evidence so that offenders are brought to justice.

A range of measures for vulnerable and intimidated witnesses exist to help reduce the anxiety of going to court. These include giving evidence from behind a screen, via an intermediary or away from the court room.

Additionally, in January 2017 we commenced the roll out of recorded pre-trial cross-examination in the Crown Court for vulnerable victims, which includes victims of child sexual abuse and child sexual exploitation, so they are spared the trauma of reliving events at trial.

We are also determined to improve the family justice response to domestic abuse and are legislating to allow courts to prevent abusers from questioning their victims in person in family proceedings.

The Government also fund a range of victim support services which can help provide support through the criminal justice system. These include Independent Domestic Violence Advisors, Independent Sexual Advisors, and caseworkers for victims of Modern Slavery and families bereaved by homicide, to assist victims and other witnesses who are giving evidence at court.

The Government provides grant funding for a court-based witness service at all criminal courts in England and Wales, which provides emotional and practical support and information to victims and witnesses, including an enhanced service for vulnerable and intimidated and young witnesses.