Court video link will cut trauma for victim and save system £4m a year
VICTIMS of crime, and witnesses will be able to give evidence to courts via video link following the launch of a ground-breaking pilot project designed to eventually save the justice system £4 million a year.
For two months, prisoners in Barlinnie have been able to participate in court cases electronically, cutting out the need for transport in more than half of cases. That will soon be extended to northern Scotland, where distances are often much greater, immigration tribunals and high court appeals.
In the long term, the Scottish Government hopes to extend the scheme to include police, victims of crime and witnesses.
Police, in particular, will welcome the initiative as the number of officer hours lost to court appearances has been a major frustration for forces.
Strathclyde, Scotland’s largest force, has previously estimated a more efficient system could see it put an extra 200 officers on the street and save a portion of the £4m a year it pays police for attending cases when off duty.
Victims would no longer face the often traumatic ordeal of facing offenders in court.
David Sinclair, of Victim Support Scotland, said: “We believe that technology should be used as far as the law allows.
“There is a considerable possibility for victims of crime and witnesses to give evidence electronically. That would help in the cost of providing the service and, in many cases, will do away with the requirement on people having to wait in court buildings.
“After the crime itself has been perpetuated, it [appearing in court] is the next most traumatic thing that happens in a person’s life. Some people can take it in their stride but others can’t.”
However, the starting principle behind the pilot has been to save money and make the justice system more efficient.
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