Crime scene witness videos could be shown in court

Picture: Ian Rutherford
Picture: Ian Rutherford
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EVIDENCE from witnesses could be filmed at crime scenes for use in trials instead of an “attempt to recall what happened many months later in court”, a new legal report has said.

A “transformation” of the way witness testimonies are recorded could help move Scotland’s trial procedures out of the Victorian era and also remove the stress of making vulnerable people and children go to court.

The review, which was chaired by Lord Carloway, Lord Justice Clerk, suggested that digital technology could be used to capture and present the testimony of witnesses in advance of the trial”.

The Scottish Court Service (SCS) Evidence and Procedure Review Report, found that the conduct of criminal trials needs to change, and should keep pace with changes in the digital age where much of what we do and say is filmed.

It said: “There are benefits in the ability to schedule the recording of witness statements and examination for the courts, for witnesses and jurors and for the parties; there are efficiencies in the final trial deriving from a procedure that means original statements are edited and appropriate controls placed on cross-examination.

“And, critically, there is every reason to think that the evidence gathered and presented will be more accurate and reliable if taken substantially closer to the incidents in question than the trial diet - in other words, it will make a positive contribution to the ascertainment of the truth.”