Supporting Child Witnesses: Taking Evidence, Mitigating Trauma, Implementing Reform

This event examines the first phase of the implementation of the Vulnerable Witnesses Act and any transitional arrangements, and explores the next steps to improve support for child witnesses.

A "milestone" in Scotland's journey to protect children as they interact with the justice system

In May 2019, the Scottish Parliament unanimously passed the Vulnerable Witnesses (Criminal Evidence) Bill. Developed with the support of children’s and victim’s charities, the Bill sets out a presumption that child witnesses will provide evidence through pre-recordings to spare them the trauma of appearing in court.

The reforms are backed by £2 million of funding to create a specialist evidence suite for child witnesses in Glasgow, and upgrades to facilities that support evidence by commissioner in Inverness, Aberdeen, and Edinburgh. These improved facilities will make a real and positive difference to child witnesses and potentially to the quality of their testimony. 

Join us at this forward-looking event as we examine the planned implementation of recent legislation and what next steps can and should be taken to improve support for child witnesses in Scotland.  

Key issues we will address with you

  • Scottish Government update on the first phase of the implementation of the Vulnerable Witnesses Act and any transitional arrangements
  • The new facility in Glasgow, and upgrades elsewhere, and how these will mitigate the trauma experienced by child witnesses 
  • Effectiveness of the new High Court Practice Note supporting the move to much greater use of evidence by commissioner 
  • Joint Investigative Interviewing
  • Examples of good practice in supporting children in the justice system 
  • Children’s services, justice agencies, and third sector organisations taking a multi-agency approach to supporting child witnesses
  • Next steps for improving the experiences of child witnesses  

Who should attend? 

  • Child protection professionals
  • Social workers
  • Children’s rights officers
  • Victim support organisations
  • Legal professionals
  • Police Scotland
  • Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service
  • Third sector and independent organisations working with children and in the justice sector 

Agenda*

9:30 Registration and morning refreshments 

09:55 Welcome and introduction from the Chair 

Tam Bailie, former Children & Young People's Commissioner

10:00 Session 1: Implementing the Act, Transitional Arrangements, & Facilities to Mitigate Trauma 

In this opening session, we examine phase one of the implementation of the Vulnerable Witnesses Act, any transitional arrangements, and the role of the new and upgraded facilities designed to mitigate trauma. We will explore what these mean for the legal profession, child witnesses, and the professionals who support them. 

10:00 Speaker tbcCriminal Justice Reform Unit, Scottish Government 

10:10 Speaker tbc, Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service

10:30 John Scott QC, Solicitor Advocate 

11:00 Mary Glasgow, Chief Executive, Children 1st

11:30 Questions and Discussion 

11:40 Refreshments and networking 

12:00 Session 2: Supporting Child Witnesses in Practice 

This session will include a number of case studies and examples of good practice in supporting child witnesses. Afterwards, delegates will have the opportunity to discuss what they can learn from these examples for their own work and organisation. 

12:00 Meg Binns, Lead Youth Practitioner, Cairn Project

12:20 Kate Wallace, Chief Executive, Victim Support Scotland

12:40 Speaker tbc

13:00 Interactive Discussion

Delegates will be divided into small groups to discuss what can be learned from the case-study presentations. This is an opportunity to begin to think about what next steps can be taken to improve support for child witnesses, and these can be noted down to be put to the panel after lunch. 

13:30 Lunch and networking 

14:15 Session 3: Special Measures, Next Steps, & Taking a Child-Centred Approach 

14:15 Panel Discussion 

Improving children’s experiences of the justice system is the concern of children’s services professionals, social workers, Police Scotland, and the courts. In this session, our panel of experts appraise exisiting special measures, such as Joint Investigative Interviews, and explore what next steps can and should be taken to improve children's experiences of the justice system.

Speakers:

tbc

15:00 Summary and Closing Remarks 

Tam Bailie, former Children & Young People's Commissioner

15:10 Close of Event 

*The agenda is subject to change 



Our events are CPD certified. This event is equivalent to 2 CPD points.
A certificate is available on request post-event to all attendees.

 

Speaker callout

We are committed to bringing the latest policy information with engaging dialogue and practical case studies to make a real impact in the public sector. If you are a knowledge expert in your field or have an inspiring case study which would make an impact to Public Sector organisations, we would love to hear from you. Please email craig.kelly@holyrood.com with your name and contact details, linkedin profile and a summary of your project or area or expertise and we will be in touch.

Venue

Central Edinburgh

Costs

Delegate rates (excluding VAT):

  • Reduced rate: 1 place £145 + VATpp (Voluntary/charitable organisations with an annual income of less than £1m)
  • Standard rate: 1 place £245 + VAT | 2+ places £195 + VAT per place (Central government departments and agencies, local authorities, universities, colleges, NHS, police, professional associations and voluntary/charitable organisations with an annual income over £1m)
  • Private Sector rate: 1 place £295 + VAT | 2+ places £245 + VAT per place (Commercial organisations e.g. plc, Ltd, LLP)

For more information please email enquiries@holyrood.com or phone 0131 285 1635

Dates
4 December 2019

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