Children under 12 to be exempt from giving evidence

Children under the age of 12 living in Scotland will no longer
have to go to court in order to give evidence in cases involving
sexual or violent crime, under new Scottish executive

The executive has outlined a range of measures in the Vulnerable
Witnesses Bill that aims to modernise the justice system to provide
added protection and support to vulnerable groups.

The measures include vulnerable witnesses recording their
evidence before a trial and away from the court or giving it live
via a TV link. Other proposals include a screen being erected in
the courtroom, concealing witnesses from the accused.

Groups that could be helped by the proposals include all
children aged under 16, and people with a mental disorder which
affects their ability to give evidence.

The bill also proposes abolishing the competence test where
currently the evidence of some witnesses such as young children or
people with learning difficulties is not allowed to be heard.

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