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Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act (Section 28 Pilots)

Volume 594: debated on Tuesday 17 March 2015

12. What recent assessment he has made of the outcome of the pilots of section 28 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999. (908097)

Recorded pre-trial cross-examination is designed to help vulnerable witnesses to give their best possible evidence and to spare them the trauma of being cross-examined in front of a jury and the public. The hon. Lady will know that we have been piloting the scheme in Liverpool, Leeds and Kingston upon Thames Crown courts, and that the pilots ended in October 2014. Interim findings from the evaluation of the pilots are awaited, and an announcement of the plans for any future roll-out of the scheme will be made in due course.

I recently visited the recorder of Liverpool, Judge Goldstone, who said that the section 28 pilot in Liverpool had resulted in a sea change in culture in court: cross-examinations without the aggressive barracking and repetitive questions of defence lawyers, and impressive outcomes in the reduction of stress and anxiety in children. Does the Minister agree that if the pilot was rolled out to every court, it would hugely increase the confidence of child witnesses in the criminal justice system?

As I have said, we are awaiting the results of the pilots. Once we have considered them, we will take the proper action and, if necessary, roll them out further.