New report recommends online courts for domestic abuse cases

21 January, 2022

The Virtual Trials National Project has today published a report on the pilot of virtual summary trials.

The report recommends that specialist online courts should be set up throughout Scotland for domestic abuse cases.

Virtual summary trials were piloted in May 2021 in Inverness and Aberdeen, with the support of Victim Support Scotland.

Key findings from the report state that virtual trials would:

  • Increase protection and reduce trauma for complainers
  • Make it easier for witnesses to give evidence
  • Reduce the need for individuals to travel to court
  • Assist in the delay of trials caused by the Covid-19 pandemic
  • Maintain consistency with the aims of capturing best evidence and trauma-informed practices.

Victim Support Scotland Chief Executive Kate Wallace said: “We welcome the outcome of this report, with recommendations made that online courts are available for domestic abuse cases.

“This change is long overdue. People we support in domestic abuse situations, have given feedback that this way of giving evidence is more appropriate, more trauma-informed and also means they will not come face-to-face with the accused in court.

“Many victims who have come through the criminal justice system have found going to court as traumatic as the crime itself. This is unacceptable. Being able to give evidence virtually puts choice and control back into the hands of people who have suffered from domestic abuse, which is especially important following the traumatic aftermath of crime.

“It is encouraging that the positive results we have seen with evidence being given this way, has been acknowledged within the report. We look forward to continuing this important work alongside our colleagues across the Scottish courts, to ensure this change is rolled out as soon as possible and is available in the future to everyone impacted by crime.”

The full report is available by clicking here.