Rape victims could be allowed to pre-record video evidence to spare them being intimidated in court by their attackers under government plans to reverse collapsing conviction rates
- Rape victims would be cross examined in pre-recorded interviews for courts
- A trial has been successful at crown courts in Liverpool, Leeds and Kingston
- A roll-out for teenage and other victims is launching in more crown courts today
Rape victims could be allowed to pre-record their video evidence to spare them being intimidated in court by their attackers under government plans to reverse collapsing conviction rates.
A trial of new technology for rape cases at three courts is said to have been ‘positive,’ so far.
Ministers are now working with senior judges to secure a nationwide roll-out, as conviction rates reach a record low – despite an increase in complaints.
A total of 2,102 reached court in 2019-2020 – a 59 per cent decline since 2016.
This was despite reports of rape increasing by a third to 55,130. Since 2016-17, referrals from the police to the CPS have plummeted by 40 per cent.
Pilots in Liverpool, Leeds and Kingston have seen video evidence pre-recorded as soon as a suspect has been charged. It has reportedly seen an improvement in victim’s testimony
Under the Ministry of Justice’s plans , victims could pre-record their evidence, including cross-examination, the video would then be played during a trial.
Justice minister Alex Chalk told The Telegraph: ‘Vulnerable victims show great courage by coming forward. It’s vital they can do so in the least traumatic way possible. This technology ensures they are protected and are able to give their best possible evidence, without reducing a defendant’s right to a fair trial.’
Pilots in Liverpool, Leeds and Kingston have seen video evidence recorded as soon as a suspect has been charged.
Judges and defendants will watch via video link, with the presiding justice retaining the evidence once they’re satisfied all questions have been asked.
Victims’ commissioner Dame Vera Baird said: ‘Pre-trial evidence and cross examination means that once it has been done, their role in the trial is over. They can move on with their lives and seek help to recover from any trauma.’
According to The Telegraph, the new means of questioning has helped to reduce trauma and also with recollecting events.
The trial will be widened for under-age victims and those with mental health problems to all 18 crown courts in London and Kent, as well as some in Sussex, West Midlands and Essex.
The technology was used successfully against Primary security guard Zia Uddin last year.
Uddin, then 27, was jailed for 14 years in November after it came to light he forced 15-year-old girls to perform sex acts in return for not telling their parents they had attempted to take items from the store.
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