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Vulnerable Victims and Witnesses

Volume 592: debated on Tuesday 10 February 2015

9. What recent discussions he has had with the Director of Public Prosecutions on dealing with vulnerable victims and witnesses. (907535)

Measures to support vulnerable victims and witnesses are regularly discussed by the Crown Prosecution Service and the Attorney-General’s office. The CPS works closely with the police and the voluntary sector to ensure that vulnerable victims and witnesses are well supported through the criminal justice system. The results of the first national CPS survey of victims and witnesses due in the summer will inform future actions.

The Crown Prosecution Service draft document, “Speaking to Witnesses at Court”, was published in January, and it is broadly welcome. However, will the Solicitor-General give some reassurance to those who are concerned that it might involve coaching of witnesses?

It is vital that everybody involved in witness care understands the old and well-established rule that witnesses must not be coached. Educating them in the process is absolutely right, but talking about the evidence and trying to coach them in some way would be wholly wrong.

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Victims of human trafficking are the most vulnerable witnesses that can be had before the courts. Adult victims of human trafficking are looked after very well under the Government’s scheme, but child victims are not. Will the Solicitor-General look at ways in which we can improve protection and help for the child victims of human trafficking?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend, whose track record in fighting modern-day slavery is well known to us all. The Crown Prosecution Service has clear guidelines that ask prosecutors to consider very carefully the public interest in prosecuting young people who are identified as victims of human trafficking where there is clear evidence of exploitation. That approach will turn people who used to be regarded as defendants into true victims of modern-day slavery.