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.