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Victims and Witnesses: Support

Volume 646: debated on Thursday 6 September 2018

The CPS continues to work with criminal justice partners to ensure that the support offered to victims and witnesses is tailored to meet their needs. Prosecutors will meet victims and witnesses before they give evidence to explain what is likely to happen in court and consider whether special measures such as screens or TV links can be used to help them to give their evidence.

Registered intermediaries support children and vulnerable witnesses in court, but as BBC Wales reported last week, there is only one for the whole of Wales, including Gwent. In view of that, is the Solicitor General confident that equal access to justice is being delivered?

I was concerned to hear that report, because I myself have used registered intermediaries as a prosecutor, and I know that they have been readily used in courts across the length and breadth of Gwent and south Wales. I note that there has been an increase in recruitment in the south-east of England. I will take on board the hon. Lady’s point and make further inquiries so that we can ensure that there is equal access to intermediaries throughout the length and breadth of the jurisdiction.

Given the pressures of giving evidence in court, including for victims of rape, does my hon. and learned Friend agree that it is right that the Government have allocated £96 million of Government investment to support mental health services and vulnerable witnesses?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for her question. She is absolutely right to identify the important funding that will support witnesses giving evidence. Without witnesses giving evidence, prosecutions will not succeed.

By when will the Government introduce the measures necessary to prevent victims of domestic violence from being questioned by perpetrators in family courts?

The hon. Gentleman knows that that is and remains a key manifesto commitment for our Government. We want to introduce it via new domestic violence legislation. My colleagues in the Home Office are working on a draft Bill, and I very much hope that it will be introduced for parliamentary consideration as soon as possible this year.

Will the Solicitor General provide further clarification about the additional protections needed in the prosecutions of victims of child sexual exploitation, particularly when there sometimes appears to be a blurring of the line between victim and perpetrator?

It is right to identify the sometimes difficult and delicate choices that have to be made by the police and prosecutors when it comes to dealing properly with the victims of this appalling crime, who have often had no voice at all. A range of available measures need to be used, and they are now becoming the norm in our courts. I think we can go even further, such as by looking at a presumption that special measures will apply in such cases without the need for an application. I am grateful to the hon. Lady for her question.