Faculty keen to study pre-recorded evidence proposal

13 Mar

Greater use of pre-recorded evidence could become a feature of criminal trials in Scotland under plans outlined in a new report.

The "Evidence and Procedure Review Report" by the Scottish Court Service (SCS) follows research by a group led by Lord Carloway, the Lord Justice Clerk.

It suggests that there are "considerable benefits to be had with the greater use of pre-recorded evidence, and that the law, procedures and practice could and should be changed to achieve these benefits."

James Wolffe, QC, Dean of Faculty, commented: "It is fundamental to the rule of law that an accused person should be able to challenge and test the evidence led by the prosecution. That is the mechanism by which we, in Scotland, seek to ensure that only the guilty are convicted. All of us have an interest in securing the sound administration of justice in Scotland - and, used appropriately, technology may provide opportunities for improving that system. I look forward to considering the suggestions made in this Review - particularly those relating to the evidence of children and vulnerable witnesses - in more detail."

The report covered two main areas - the evidence of children and vulnerable witnesses, and witness statements in general.

Eric McQueen, SCS Chief Executive, said: "This Report aims to stimulate discussion about the very nature of criminal trials - how do we ensure the testimony of witnesses is as reliable, accurate and complete as it could be; how do we eliminate unnecessary delays and preserve a fair, transparent and just system; how do we make sure that young and vulnerable witnesses are safeguarded against further trauma?

"We now need to take the ideas in the Report and work through them with everyone with an interest, so that the proposals that emerge are ambitious, workable and will help create a modern, fair and efficient criminal justice system for the digital age."

The report can be seen at http://www.scotcourts.gov.uk/docs/default-source/aboutscs/reports-and-data/reports-data/evidence-and-procedure-full-report---publication-version-pdf.pdf?sfvrsn=2