UNITED KINGDOM – Bid to cut court witness stress

New targets to reduce the stress thatvictims and witnesses go through while giving evidence in court has been announced by the Lord Chancellor. Lord Falconer wants all crown courts and 90 per cent of magistrates’ courts to have facilities to keep witnesses separate from defendants within four years.

More video links will also be made available so that witnesses do not have to enter courtrooms. It is part of a five-year plan to help build confidence in the justice system. Ministers say the strategy is aimed at re-balancing the court system towards victims, and increasing the number of offenders brought to justice.

“One of the top priorities will be a better deal for victims,” Lord Falconer said when launching the Department for Constitutional Affairs’ plan. “The needs and safety of victims will be at the heart of the way the trials are managed, giving evidence is a nerve-wracking experience, especially when you’re a victim.” He added, “However, with a will and with support it can be done.’