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General

The Vulnerable Witnesses (Scotland) Bill 14/06/2018 Legislation to enable the greater use of pre-recording of evidence by child and vulnerable witnesses has been introduced to the Scottish Parliament.

The Vulnerable Witnesses (Scotland) Bill

Legislation to enable the greater use of pre-recording of evidence by child and vulnerable witnesses has been introduced to the Scottish Parliament.

The Vulnerable Witnesses (Criminal Evidence) (Scotland) Bill, if passed by Parliament, would amend the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 and forms part wider reforms to provide more help and support for victims and witnesses in Scotland’s justice system.

In particular, the Bill would create a new rule that children who are due to give evidence in the most serious criminal cases should have their evidence pre-recorded in advance of trial.

The Bill proposes other improvements such as a simplified process for deemed vulnerable witnesses to request standard special measures such as giving evidence via a live TV link away from the courtroom during the trial.

It also includes a power to enable extension of the new rule to adult witnesses deemed to be vulnerable under the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995. This covers complainers of sexual offences, stalking, domestic abuse and human trafficking in solemn proceedings.

Other changes in the Bill include:

  • New “ground rules hearings” to discuss whether all arrangements are in place and ready for pre-recording and to discuss the scope of questioning
  • The opportunity for evidence to be pre-recorded pre-indictment if considered appropriate
  • Increased flexibility by giving a new power for judges (when acting as a Commissioner during the pre-recording) to review all the special measures arrangements in place for that witness.

The Bill can be found here.

 

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