New 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 of wider reforms to provide more help and support for victims and witnesses in Scotland’s justice system.

The new Bill’s main provision is the creation of a new rule for children under 18 (complainers and witnesses) in order to ensure that where they are due to give evidence in the most serious cases, they will have it pre-recorded, usually by the special measure “evidence by commissioner”.

Other changes contained within the Bill include:

The offences to which the new rule for children applies are:

“From investing in a more ‘victim-centred’ approach that ensures people feel supported through the justice process to expanding advocacy services and funding research into survivors’ experiences, we are making significant progress to improve support for victims and witnesses,” said Justice Secretary Michael Matheson. “We are working to deliver a criminal justice system that is increasingly focused on the people affected by crime rather than the processes surrounding them.”

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