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Court System

Volume 622: debated on Tuesday 7 March 2017

We are investing £1 billion to reform and take paper out of our courts, and the Prisons and Courts Bill underpins those reforms.

The Prisons and Courts Bill clearly underpins the Government’s vision to modernise our court system, but I am particularly interested in the measures to allow victims and vulnerable witnesses to avoid the risk of coming face to face with their assailant. Will my right hon. and learned Friend update me, please?

We will obviously have physical measures, such as the use of screens in courts, but we also intend to maximise the use of video links in criminal court proceedings, to roll out pre-recorded evidence and to make greater use of prison-to-court video links. The Bill also helps to protect vulnerable witnesses in family cases by banning cross-examination by perpetrators in certain circumstances, including where there has been domestic abuse.

The Victims’ Commissioner’s review of children’s entitlements in the victims code found that the justice system is failing to meet a child’s right to receive information and for that information to be communicated in a timely way. Why does the much-needed update to the young witness pack remain incomplete? When will every child giving evidence get accurate and updated information about the process?

We are talking against a background where improvements are being made for victims all the time. I accept that more needs to be done for children, and the hon. Gentleman makes an important point. We are looking to produce further measures for victims in due course, and I will make sure that that is considered.