Vulnerable Witnesses – Changes to Scottish Legislation
FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGY AND LAW: FACING THE CHALLENGES OF A CHANGING WORLD, A. Czerederecka, T. Jaskiewicz, R. Roesch, J. Wojcikiewicz, eds., Institute of Forensic Research Publishers, Krakow, Poland, 2004
9 Pages Posted: 4 Mar 2010
Date Written: 2004
The Vulnerable Witnesses (Scotland) Act was passed in March 2004 to provide greater protection and assistance to children, those with mental health related court orders and persons suffering from significant impairment of intelligence and social functioning.
Current statutory provisions such as pre-recorded video evidence, screens to conceal the accused from a witness and CCTV links to permit a witness to give evidence outwith the courtroom, provide limited measures to safeguard the vulnerable or intimidated witness. The introduction of a ‘supporter’ to comfort or provide moral support for witnesses during court proceedings is novel, however the supporter should not seek to prompt of otherwise influence the witness, or be unduly involved in the trial.
Notably, the Act makes provisions for the introduction of expert evidence in sexual offence cases to explain the behavioural activities of a witness. This represents a turning point in Scots Law regarding psychological and psychiatric expert evidence.
Keywords: Vulnerable witness, Witnesses, Vulnerability, Expert Evidence
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