Transforming the response to domestic abuse

Closes 31 May 2018

Prosecution without victim's evidence

Where (through fear or for some other reason) a victim does not attend court to give evidence, it does not necessarily mean that the case cannot be prosecuted - there may be other relevant evidence of the offence.

For example, recorded evidence such as a 999 tape, or video footage captured by police using a body worn camera, allows courts to hear and see the nature of the event (including the victim’s account) and the immediate behaviour of the suspect and victim. If the defence object to this evidence, it is then for the prosecution to argue that it is admissible.

42. Do you have suggestions for how we can better support prosecutions through to conclusion, including providing better support for witnesses who currently disengage from the process?

43. What more can police, witness care units and the Crown Prosecution Service do to support victims through the justice process from the point of report onwards?

Protections in the family court

We also want to make sure that individuals in the family justice system receive the support and protections they require. We have worked closely with senior family judges and the Family Procedure Rule Committee to introduce new rules of court and a new practice direction relating to vulnerable parties and witnesses involved in family proceedings.

The new rules require the court to consider whether a party’s participation in the court proceedings is likely to be diminished by reason of vulnerability, or if the quality of the evidence of a party or witness is likely to be diminished by reason of vulnerability.

If so, the court must consider whether the person needs the assistance of a particular measure, such as a protective screen or a video-link. We have developed fresh training for family court staff to help them identify and support vulnerable court users. This will contribute to a more positive court experience beyond the courtroom for vulnerable people.

44. Are there other aspects of the criminal court treatment of vulnerable people which the family court could learn from?