The UK Government Monday announced that every Crown Court in England and Wales will utilize new technology to allow victims and witnesses of crimes to have their cross-examination recorded instead of being cross-examined in person during trial.
According to officials, the goal of pre-recorded testimony is “to boost rape convictions and ensure better support for victims” and “reduce trauma for victims and witnesses to help them give their best evidence.” Ideally, the technology will alleviate the anxiety victims and witnesses of crimes often feel while testifying and ensure that victims and witnesses to have clear, fresh memories when they record testimony. Since August 2020, the technology has been successfully used for more than 3,000 vulnerable victims like “children or those who have limited mental and physical capacity.” Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary Brandon Lewis hopes the technology will spare victims of rape “the additional trauma of testifying under the full glare of a courtroom.”
In 2019, the Scottish Parliment passed the Vulnerable Witnesses Act, which allows child witnesses under 18 years of age to have their evidence pre-recorded before trial. In 2018, Scottish authorities studied the impact of the use of pre-recorded evidence on juror decision-making and found that there is no “significant risk of negative juror influence” when pre-recorded testimony is used.