The Govenment has announced that new technology which spares victims of rape the stress of being cross-examined during a live trial is now available at every Crown Court in England and Wales.
The technology allows victims and witnesses of crimes such as rape or modern slavery to have their cross-examination pre-recorded and played during the trial.
The recording should take place as close to the time of the offence as possible and aims to alleviate the stress of giving evidence live in court, which many victims find traumatic, and to reduce the number of victims withdrawing from the process and increase the number of cases reaching court.
The move follows the successful implementation for vulnerable victims, such as children or those who have limited mental and physical capacity, across the country – with more than 3,000 witnesses having already benefitted from the technology since August 2020.
Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary Brandon Lewis said:
“We’re overhauling the entire response to rape – boosting support for victims so that more cases come to court and more rapists are put behind bars.”
The measure is designed to maintain a defendant’s right to a fair trial and any decision to pre-record evidence is made by a judge on a case-by-case basis.
Jayne Butler, CEO of Rape Crisis England & Wales said:
“We very much welcome the fact that pre-recorded evidence for intimidated witnesses and victims will now be available in all Crown Courts in England and Wales. Pre-recorded cross-examination prior to trial, offers choice to victims and survivors, and can make seeking justice far more accessible for rape victims and survivors who often feel re-traumatised by having to go into court. For many, attending court can be intimidating, and this measure is an important step forward in improving the experiences of survivors in the criminal justice system.”