New evidence and hearings suite for vulnerable witnesses and children in Glasgow
Giving evidence in court is often distressing and re-traumatising for many vulnerable witnesses including children. The Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service has this week opened the new Evidence and Hearings Suite in Glasgow, designed to allow vulnerable witnesses and children to record evidence and to provide evidence remotely away from a court setting.
The Scottish Government has given £2m to create the purpose-built suite, which was designed with input from children and vulnerable witnesses to create a welcoming, informal, supportive and child-friendly environment.
The Evidence and Hearing Suite makes it possible to reduce the waiting time for children and vulnerable witnesses giving evidence and ensures they do not meet the accused.
Kate Wallace, Chief Executive of Victim Support Scotland, comments:
“It is important that vulnerable witnesses have the right level of support available to them. Giving evidence can be a challenging experience for any person who has experienced a crime, and for children and young people in particular. This new evidence suite in Glasgow has been set up with the aim of preventing re-traumatisation and to protect vulnerable witnesses within Scotland’s justice system. Victim Support Scotland is working closely alongside criminal justice agencies, and the third sector, to put victims and witnesses first when it comes to shaping support services and the justice system in a way that best suits their need. This new suite is one way of making sure this happens.”
Similar suites are planned for Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Inverness, with a coalition of judiciary, politicians, practitioners and voluntary organisations aiming to improve the trial experience that supports children and vulnerable witnesses to give their best evidence.