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Views Sought on Vulnerable Witnesses Bill

A call for evidence has been launched over proposed new legislation that aims to provide vulnerable witnesses and victims of crime with a better experience of the criminal justice system in Scotland. 

The Scottish Government’s new Vulnerable Witnesses Bill would allow for the greater use of pre-recorded statements and evidence for vulnerable witnesses in criminal cases, with an initial focus on child witnesses in the most serious cases.

The Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee is closely examining the proposals in the Bill, to ensure they strike the right balance between child and other vulnerable witnesses and the accused, and has launched the call for evidence to inform this review.

The Committee specifically wants to hear opinions on a range of issues, including:

  • Is a new rule necessary when there are already some existing provisions?
  • How should a new system to pre-record evidence be rolled out to child and vulnerable witnesses? Should the roll-out be staggered?
  • What process should be used to give pre-recorded evidence?
  • And if there are views on the decision not to include under-18s accused of a crime in these measures?

“A new system to encourage the use of pre-recorded evidence would need to have the confidence of victims, witnesses and the wider legal system,” explained Committee Convener Margaret Mitchell MSP. “Therefore, it is crucial that issues like what process would be used to give pre-recorded evidence, who it would benefit, and the way in which a new system is rolled out are properly debated in the Committee.”

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