The way rape victims give evidence will be less traumatic thanks to new measures

Posted by
Hayley Spencer
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A huge step forward in helping reduce trauma for rape victims has been made by courts in England and Wales.

As of September this year, victims will be able to pre-record their evidence so that instead of them being cross-examined in court, a video can be shown to the jury.

The technique has been successfully trialled with child sex abuse cases in three cities, meaning that the new system will be introduced earlier than planned for adult sexual offences.

Elizabeth Truss, the justice secretary and lord chancellor, has explained that the trial resulted in more earlier guilty pleas, reducing trauma for victims and speeding up the justice process. It’s also thought the new measure will encourage more victims to report sex crimes, who may have been put off previously by the prospect of having to give evidence in court.

She told The Sunday Times: "There is more we can do to help alleged victims in these cases give the best possible evidence they can give in an environment that is much more suitable than open court. We've been trialling this for children in cases of child sex abuse.”

"I want to see that being the standard offer in those cases and that will give more victims the confidence to come forward."

The new way of giving evidence has also been backed by Rape Crisis England & Wales. "Any measure that reduces the trauma of the criminal justice process for victims and survivors is positive," the organisation said of the new measures.

They explained: "While more victims and survivors of sexual violence than ever before have been coming forward to seek both specialist services and criminal justice in recent years, the vast majority still choose not to report to the police.

“Through our frontline experience of supporting women and girls who've been raped, sexual abused and sexually assaulted, we know that among the reasons for this is fear of the criminal justice system, including the prospect of giving evidence in open court and of cross-examination."

Image: iStock.