New Glasgow evidence suite opened for children and vulnerable witnesses
A new evidence and hearings suite has opened in Glasgow to allow children and vulnerable witnesses to give evidence away from a court room.
The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service’s purpose-built suite includes child-friendly hearing rooms for the pre-recording of evidence, ‘live link’ rooms for evidence given by TV link to court, waiting rooms and support spaces.
The suite, which was designed with input from children and vulnerable witnesses, also has a sensory room to help create a calm and supportive environment.
It also provides hearing rooms for the Additional Support Needs Tribunal.
The new evidence and hearings suite was opened on Monday by the Lord Justice Clerk, Lady Dorrian, and Cabinet Secretary for Justice Humza Yousaf.
Dorrian said: “Our earlier work on the Evidence and Procedure Review highlighted that subjecting children to the traditional adversarial form of examination and cross-examination at court is no longer acceptable; is unlikely to elicit the best quality of evidence and has the potential to cause further distress.
“This new suite will help children and vulnerable witnesses to give their best evidence, and have it tested, in a supportive environment, still respecting the need for a fair trial.
“Trauma-informed staff will manage the hearings and live TV links to court, taking account of the specific needs or vulnerabilities of the witness.
This is another significant step in improving the way in which children and vulnerable witnesses are treated in our criminal justice system.”
Yousaf added: “We are working closely with SCTS and other partners to improve the experiences of children and vulnerable witnesses in the justice system, and this excellent new facility provides the technical quality required, with professional and supportive staff, within an environment designed to enable them to give their best evidence in criminal trials.
“Today we have laid Commencement Regulations in Parliament to ensure that any child witness under the age of 18 giving evidence in the most serious cases will be allowed to have it pre-recorded, sparing them the trauma of giving evidence during a trial.
“This first phase of implementing the new pre-recording rule will cover certain cases in the High Court. Modern facilities and technology play a vital role in delivering this change and I am pleased the Scottish Government has supported the development of this venue.”
The suite is the first of four, three others to be opened in Edinburgh, Inverness and Aberdeen.