Increased protection for vulnerable adult witnesses moves closer

The introduction of special measures for vulnerable adult
witnesses was expected to move a step closer to becoming a reality
this week with the long-awaited publication of an implementation
plan for outstanding provisions of part two of the Youth Justice
and Criminal Evidence Act 1999, writes Lauren

The plan and accompanying guidance was due to be published this
week by the inter-departmental steering group set up to take
forward the act and the 78 recommendations for improvements to the
criminal justice system put forward in the home office’s 1998
report, ‘Speaking up for Justice’.

The special measures outlined in the act – which have
already been introduced for child witnesses – include the use
of screens in court, live links, evidence given in private, removal
of wigs and gowns, video recorded evidence in chief, video recorded
cross-examination, the examination of witnesses through an
intermediary, and the use of communication aids.

Speaking in Westminster Hall last week, the minister for
criminal justice, sentencing and law reform, Keith Bradley,
admitted that the target of implementing most of the special
measures in the crown court by the end of 2001 had been “too
ambitious”. He said the departments and agencies involved had
agreed that more time was needed to prepare for change, and that
the final revised timetable would be announced this week.



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