Philip Davies – 2015 Parliamentary Question to the Ministry of Justice

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Philip Davies on 2015-11-23.

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many children under the age of (a) 13 and (b) 18 gave evidence from a (i) remote site and (ii) court building in 2014-15.

Mike Penning

The Ministry is committed to supporting all victims and witnesses, including children, when giving evidence in criminal trials. All victims and witnesses are eligible for special measures to relieve stress when giving evidence, including giving evidence by video remotely.

We have secured over £700m of funding to invest in our courts and tribunals. We have worked closely with the senior judiciary to develop a plan for investing this in reforming the courts and tribunals so they can deliver swifter, fairer justice at a lower cost. This will include digitisation and modernisation of our IT infrastructure. This will mean court users can attend hearings remotely, and not be inconvenienced by having to take a day off work to come to court. It will also mean victims of crime can give evidence from somewhere they feel safe.

Since March 2015 vulnerable and intimidated witnesses, including child abuse victims, can give evidence from a remote site which is away from the court environment. There is at least one remote site in each of the seven Regions in England and Wales, and twelve sites in total.

In addition, the court estate is video-enabled so that any victim or witness can give evidence from a court building other than the trial site to ensure they do not come into contact with the defendant, or their family and supporters.

Whilst HMCTS collates data on the number of witnesses giving evidence by video, the ages of the victims and witnesses are not recorded.