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Special Measures

Special measures are changes that make it easier for a witness to participate at court.

Child witnesses
Child defendants

Child witnesses

All child witnesses are automatically entitled to use special measures (the judge must be asked and agree to them).1  Child defendants are not automatically entitled to special measures (see below).

Special measures2 are:

  • use of screens (to ensure a witness does not see the defendant)3
  • live link (allows a witness to give evidence from outside the courtroom)4
  • giving evidence in private (asking the public and the press to leave court)5
  • removal of wigs and gowns6
  • pre-recorded evidence (ABE interview)7
  • use of an intermediary8
  • other aids to communication (using an interpreter, communication aid or technique)9

 

Child defendants

Child defendants are not automatically entitled to special measures, but there is a duty to ensure the defendant can effectively participate.10  There are two statutory special measures available:

  • live link (allows a defendant to give evidence from outside the courtroom)11
  • use of a registered intermediary when giving evidence12

There are also a wide variety of modifications to enable child defendants to effectively participate and give their best evidence:

Lawyers representing child defendants can argue that the modifications to the trial process available to child witnesses through special measures should be available to child defendants to ensure they receive a fair trial:

“..there remains the obligation to ensure a fair trial and, in particular, to see that a defendant does not suffer injustice through inequality of arms.”13

 

  1. Section 16(1)(a) Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999  (back)
  2. Section 23-30 Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999  (back)
  3. Section 23 Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999  (back)
  4. Section 24 Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999  (back)
  5. Section 25 Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999  (back)
  6. Section 26 Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999  (back)
  7. Section 27 & 28 Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 (section 28 is not yet in force – there are pilot in Leeds, Liverpool and Kingston Upon Thames Crown Courts).  (back)
  8. Section 29 Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999  (back)
  9. Section 30 Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999  (back)
  10. C v Sevenoaks  (back)
  11. Section 33A Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999, R (S) v Waltham Forest Youth Court & Ors [2004] EWHC 715 (Admin)  (back)
  12. Section 109(1) Coroners and Justice Act 2003, C v Sevenoaks Youth Court [2009] EWHC 3088 (Admin)R (OP) v Secretary of State for Justice & Others [2014] EWHC 1944 (Admin)  (back)
  13. R (S) v Waltham Forest Youth Court & Ors [2004] EWHC 715 (Admin)  (back)