re-recorded evidence of victims and witnesses to crimes has been rolled out to Crown Courts in England and Wales.
The Ministry of Justice has said that from Monday the technology will be available at the final 20 Crown Courts in Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, East Anglia, Essex, London and the South East, marking the end of a national rollout.
The recording takes place as close to the time of the crime as possible, while keeping memories fresh, and helps victims avoid the stress of giving evidence in the full glare of a live trial, which many find traumatic.
The tool allows victims and witnesses of crimes such as rape and modern slavery to have their cross-examination videotaped and played later during the trial. This is subject to a successful application to the court.
The measure is designed to uphold a defendant’s right to a fair trial, and any decision to pre-admit evidence is made by a judge on a case-by-case basis.
It only began to be rolled out in August 2020, and more than 3,000 witnesses have already used the technology during various court cases.
Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary Brandon Lewis said: “We are reviewing the whole response to rape – and increasing support for victims so more cases come to justice and more rapists are put behind bars.
“Today we have delivered on our promise to roll out pre-recorded evidence to all Crown Courts in England and Wales, saving victims of this horrific crime the added trauma of giving evidence under the full glare of a courtroom.”
Following the completion of the national roll-out to Crown Courts, the Government has announced that it will now be trialled for child and vulnerable adult witnesses for all offenses at Leeds Youth Court in a bid to consider how it could be used more widely in trials against under 18s.