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COPFS

Extra help for vulnerable witnesses in Court

From today, 1 September, vulnerable witnesses in Scotland will have greater protection with new provisions of the Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2014 coming into force. This includes enhanced special measures to support them when giving evidence in Court.

 

All witness aged under 18 and adults who are victims of specific offences such as domestic abuse, sexual crime or stalking are deemed vulnerable witnesses and entitled to give evidence in court with the assistance of standard special measures. Other adult witnesses may also be vulnerable  and can also be assisted by special measures where the quality of their evidence is affected by fear and distress, a mental health factor or where they are at risk of harm.

Being a witness is an important civic duty, and giving evidence in Court can be an unfamiliar and uncomfortable experience. Vulnerable witnesses will be kept informed of case progress by Victim Information and Advice throughout criminal proceedings, and special measures arranged where the law allows, helping them to give their best evidence.

Standard special measures are:

  • the use of a live television link
  • the use of a screen
  • the use of a supporter

Non-standard special measures are:

  • taking evidence by a commission
  • giving evidence in the form of a prior statement
  • excluding the public during the taking of evidence.