Giving evidence in Court

Claire is 16 and witnessed an assault a few months ago. She has been asked to give evidence in court. She has never been to a court before and doesn’t know what to expect. She is worried about seeing the person she is giving evidence against.

Claire phoned a solicitor from Clan Childlaw. The solicitor explained to her that since she is under 18, she is treated as a “vulnerable witness”. This means she is automatically entitled to have special measures put in place to help her give evidence. She can use a live television link – so she can speak to the court without being in the same room – or she can give her evidence from behind a screen so that she can’t see, or be seen by, the person she is giving evidence about. She can also have someone alongside her while she gives her evidence – this person is called a supporter. Claire thinks that it would be good to have a supporter beside her. The solicitor explained that there are also other special measures she can ask for. She should contact the person that has asked her to give evidence to tell them that she is a vulnerable witness and ask what measures can be put in place. The solicitor explained that the court also has a Witness Service. The Witness Service can arrange for someone to meet her at court, show her around the court and sit with her. Claire thinks this may be helpful as she has only ever seen courts on tv.

Claire says she is worried about bumping into the person she is giving evidence against inside the court building. The solicitor tells her that she may be waiting in a room with other witnesses until it is her time to give evidence. If she is worried about seeing the person she is giving evidence about, she should tell the person that has asked her to give evidence, and they will try to arrange for her to wait in a different room. The solicitor explained that if anyone tries to frighten her or get her to change what she is saying, they are committing a very serious crime. If this happens, she should tell the Witness Service, the police or the Procurator Fiscal who will make sure it doesn’t happen again.

The solicitor supported Claire with contacting the court and making arrangements for special measures.

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