Child witnesses should be offered a court familiarisation visit before the day they need to go to court to give evidence.1 When the child arrives at court, they should be met by a trained witness supporter and taken to a witness waiting area.2
There is a presumption that children will give their evidence by recorded video and any further evidence by livelink if required. A child may opt out, subject to the agreement of the court, and give evidence in court instead. In that case, there is a presumption that the child will give evidence form behind a screen. It is also possible for a child defendant or witness to give their evidence without the screen in court if they wish to opt out and the court agrees. The child will be asked to promise to tell the truth, rather than taking an oath.3
The lawyers should consider the child’s age and understanding when asking questions to make sure that they fully understand.4
- 1. Paragraph 3G.2, Criminal Practice Direction on Vulnerable Defendants, 2013
- 2. Witness support has created an interactive courtroom to help young witnesses know what to expect when going to court.
- 3. Section 28(1) of the Children and Young Persons Act 1963
- 4. Planning to Question a Child or Young Person, The Advocates Gateway, Toolkit 6, 21 December 2015