Today (26 September 2022) it has been announced that pre-recorded evidence for intimidated witnesses and victims will now be available in all Crown Courts in England and Wales.
The measure allows victims and witnesses to have their cross-examination video-recorded and played later during trial. This is subject to a successful application to the court.
The recording takes place as close to the time of the offence as possible, while memories remain fresh, and helps victims avoid the stress of giving evidence under the full glare of a live trial setting.
Rape Crisis England & Wales' CEO Jayne Butler states:
"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.
For this special measure to be a success, it is crucial that everyone working in and engaging with crown courts is aware of it, offers it as an option for survivors, and approves its use where appropriate. If implemented correctly, this measure will go some way to ensure that intimidated witnesses and victims – constituting the large majority of rape and sexual abuse survivors – have better experiences of court."
The justice system is failing survivors of rape and sexual abuse, and needs to change. Read our 'The Decriminalisation of Rape' report.