Victim watchdog's court video call

All victims of sexual crimes should be able to give evidence on video ahead of the case reaching court, sparing them a "long and anxious wait" for justice, says a former North East police chief.

Monday, 24th May 2021, 11:33 am

Former Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird, said such victims should be allowed to give evidence and be cross-examined at an early stage over video, enabling them to get on with their lives.

She says victims will have to wait months before appearing in court amid a growing backlog in cases and some are at risk of coming face-to-face with defendants because courts are not set up to deliver the protections they are entitled to.

She says the current system is not working as well as it could and the situation has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

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Dame Vera is calling for intimidated witnesses - those suffering from fear or distress in relation to testifying, which includes sexual offence victims - to be able give video evidence ahead of a trial.

She said: "I am calling for all victims of sexual crimes to be allowed to give evidence and be cross-examined by video, at an early stage while their memory is fresh.

"Then they are free to take therapy if they need it and to get on with their lives since the video evidence would be their evidence in court."

She added: "With some crimes from last year unlikely to reach court before 2022 or later, this could spare thousands of potentially traumatised victims a long and anxious wait."