An Evaluation of the Use of Videotaped Evidence for Juvenile Witnesses in Criminal Courts in England and Wales

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Abstract

For the first time, the UK Criminal Justice Act (1991) allowed the videotaped evidence of a child to be substituted for the child's evidence-in-chief in a criminal court. The present study is an evaluation of that legislation. One hundred and fifty children were observed testifying in a criminal court in the UK. The use of the videotaped evidence and subsequent cross-examination of the child witness (usually via the closed circuit television system) was also observed. The data base from the Lord Chancellor's Department of all trials involving child witnesses in England and Wales was also analysed. The results showed that the introduction of the video technology into the criminal courts reduced the levels of stress of child witnesses but did not increase the conviction rates.