Child witnesses’ needs are being ignored by courts, causing
unnecessary distress and trauma according to a recently published
report by the Scottish executive.
The report, which analyses child witness programmes in Glasgow
over the past three years, points out that the Scottish Law
Commission stated in 1990 that child witnesses should receive
“careful pre-trial preparation… coupled with sensitive handling
of the child from the moment of arrival at the court house”.
This stance assumes that the child and their representatives are
being advised of alternative ways to give evidence, the needs of
each child are being assessed in advance, the views of the child
are being taken into account, and each child witness is being
handled sensitively. However, the report finds that none of these
steps are being applied consistently. It calls for treatment of
child witnesses to take account of the UN Convention on the Rights
of the Child.
An Evaluation of Child Witness Support from www.scotland.gov.uk