The Government are committed to improving the experience of witnesses in court to ensure that they are supported to give their best evidence. Recent harrowing court cases involving children and other vulnerable people have highlighted that there is more we can do.
For some time now, the Ministry of Justice has been working with our partners in the criminal justice system to actively look at the issues around implementing section 28 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999. Section 28 would allow for recorded pre-trial cross-examination of vulnerable and intimidated witnesses in cases where there may be a delay in the holding of the trial or where the nature of the case is such that the witness could be cross-examined in advance of trial.
I am confirming today the Government’s plan to pilot section 28 by the end of the year in three Crown court locations—Liverpool, Leeds and Kingston upon Thames. The pilots will run for six months followed by an assessment period after which we will consider how best to take this measure forward.