The use of pre-recorded evidence from victims and witnesses of crimes has been introduced in Crown Courts in England and Wales.
The Department of Justice said that from Monday the technology would be available in the remaining 20 Crown Courts in Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, East Anglia, Essex, London and the South East, marking the end of a national deployment.
Recording evidence as close to the time of the offense as possible, while memories remain fresh, will help victims avoid the stress of testifying in the spotlight of a live trial, which many find traumatic.
The tool allows victims and witnesses of crimes such as rape and modern slavery to have their cross-examination recorded and broadcast during the trial. This is subject to a successful application to the court.
The measure is designed to maintain a defendant’s right to a fair trial, and any decision to pre-record evidence will be made by a judge on a case-by-case basis.
Its rollout began in August 2020 and more than 3,000 witnesses have already used the technology in trials.
Brandon Lewis, Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary, said: ‘We are overhauling the whole rape response, strengthening support for victims so that more cases come to court and more rapists are put behind bars.
“Today we delivered on our promise to deploy pre-recorded evidence in all Crown Courts across England and Wales, sparing victims of this horrific crime the added trauma of testifying in the full light of a courtroom.”
Following the completion of the nationwide rollout in Crown Courts, the Government has announced that the technology will be trialled for children and vulnerable adults witnessing all offenses at Leeds Youth Court to consider how it could be used more broadly in under-18 trials.