Special measures for vulnerable witnesses at court

Special measures are intended to help vulnerable witnesses by providing appropriate support when they give their evidence.

There are two types of special measures – standard measures that are applied automatically to vulnerable witnesses and additional measures that you will need to request.

An image of a woman in a court room.

Standard measures automatically applied for deemed vulnerable witnesses and children

Who is deemed a vulnerable witness?

A ‘deemed vulnerable witness’ is a victim of one of the following:

  • A sexual offence
  • Human trafficking
  • Domestic abuse
  • Stalking

What measures are offered to a vulnerable witness?

The standard special measures a deemed vulnerable witness has automatic access to are:

  • Remote web link, whereby the witness can give live evidence at a secure location outwith the courtroom
  • Screen that obscures the witness from the perpetrator
  • Supporter to sit by the witness while they give their evidence

Witnesses under the age of 18 at the start of the legal proceedings have automatic access to different special measures depending on their age:

  • Under 12 – a remote web link and an in-court supporter
  • 12 to 15 – a screen and an in-court supporter
  • 16 and 17 – an in-court supporter

Other special measures, such as a closed court, are available on application only where:

  • There is significant risk that the quality of the evidence will be diminished due to a mental disorder, or fear or distress in connection with giving evidence
  • There is a significant risk of harm associated with the person giving evidence

You can also request:

  • Wheelchair access
  • A loop system for people with hearing difficulties
  • An interpreter if English is not your first language

To request or discuss special measures you can talk to Victim Information and Advice at the court you are attending.

Alternatively, Victim Support Scotland’s Court Service can give you more information on the special measures available to you and help you request them.

Contact Victim Support Scotland’s Court Service for support with special measures and attending court as a witness using one of the contact methods below.


Whoever you are and whatever the crime, we’re here to help