What progress has been made on the development of alternative court processes for child witnesses?
Very good progress. Earlier today I announced a comprehensive package of inquisitorial-style reforms to dramatically improve the way the criminal justice system treats child witnesses. The reforms, which include the introduction of specialist intermediaries and pre-recording a child’s entire evidence before trial, will ensure children are not rebrutalised by their contact with the system, and that their cases are dealt with in a much timelier fashion.
The key reforms include two new legislative presumptions for child witnesses under the age of 12. These two presumptions will make it standard for children of that age to give their evidential interview by video, recorded on closed circuit television, and to have their entire evidence, including cross-examination and re-examination evidence, pre-recorded at a hearing significantly earlier than the trial. There is an expectation that the judiciary will take a much more active role in determining whether questions put to child witnesses are appropriate, and ensuring all child witnesses have an automatic right to a support person when giving evidence in court.