Order in Court secures important changes for young witnesses Justice Secretary announces reforms following our petition to help children giving evidence in court.

Justice Secretary announces reforms following our petition to help children giving evidence in court

ListeningThe Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has announced reforms that will ensure that by March 2015 there is compulsory training for barristers who take part in sexual abuse cases, and that vulnerable witnesses can choose to give evidence away from the court building.

Alan Wardle, Head of Public Affairs at the NSPCC said:

"This announcement is great news and something we have long pushed for, most recently through our Order in Court campaign.

"Every year more than 20,000 children are witnesses in criminal cases and many are terrified they will bump into their abuser when they go to court to give evidence. Providing remote video links for them will take away that fear which can prevent them giving their evidence and sometimes leave them on the brink of suicide.

"Ensuring proper training for lawyers who take part in sexual abuse cases is also a step in the right direction, as is the national roll out of a scheme which allows videoed cross-examinations of children to be used in trials.

"Every year more than 20,000 children are witnesses in criminal cases and many are terrified they will bump into their abuser when they go to court to give evidence. Providing remote video links for them will take away that fear which can prevent them giving their evidence and sometimes leave them on the brink of suicide."
Alan Wardle / Head of Public Affairs at the NSPCC

"These are positive steps, but more work needs to be done to ensure that all child witnesses have the support of a Registered Intermediary, a trained communications expert, if required.

"Twenty-five years after a better deal for child witnesses was recommended by a leading judge we now seem to have finally set course for this to become a reality. "However, this is just the start of a journey which must result in a criminal justice system treating children in the right way when they are courageous enough to help bring abusers to justice."

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