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Evidence and Procedure Review

The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service published the Evidence and Procedure Review Report in March 2015.

The Review was chaired by Lord Carloway, Lord Justice Clerk, who in 2013 called for “clear-sky thinking” to help bring trial procedures rooted in the Victorian era into the modern, technologically-enhanced society today and in years to come.    The Review aimed to kick-start that thinking by exploring the best way, in the modern technological world, to ascertain the truth in the context of the criminal trial.   In particular, it researched what contribution might be made by the greater use of pre-recorded evidence.

NEXT STEPS

TheEvidence and Procedure Review – Next Stepsreport was published in February 2016.   Building on the initial report published in 2015, the SCTS recommended both a new approach to ensure children and vulnerable adult witnesses can give the best quality of evidence while being protected from further trauma and suggested a high level vision of a radical digital transformation of the summary criminal justice system.

REFORMING THE SUMMARY CRIMINAL COURT PROCESS

The high level vision suggested in the "Next Steps" paper was further elaborated upon in the proposition paper A New Model For Summary Criminal Court Procedurepublished in February 2017.   This paper proposed a new model for summary criminal court procedure which places digital technology and strong case management at the heart of the process.

The proposals contained in this report were discussed at a series of public roadshows in Spring 2017. The roadshows were attended by defence agents, voluntary organisations, the judiciary, COPFS and court staff, other justice organisations and members of the public.  A wide range of views were expressed which set out the opportunities and challenges. These are captured in the Follow up Report to the New Model for Summary Criminal Court Procedure.

The cross-justice working group, led by SCTS, who developed the proposals, believes that with appropriate amendment, there is scope to develop the model for potential legislation and implementation. On behalf of the Justice Board, SCTS will be seeking the support of Scottish Government to consider wider public consultation to help shape future legislation change. However, in advance of any legislation some of the ideas and principles will be tested. These are likely to include the development and piloting of a practice note for Summary Criminal Cases.

Written comments on the proposals are also welcome and can be submitted to: Evidenceandprocedurereview@scotcourts.gov.uk

IMPROVEMENTS FOR THE TAKING OF EVIDENCE FROM CHILDREN AND VULNERABLE WITNESSES

Work to progress the recommended new approach to taking the evidence of children and vulnerable adult witnesses has been taken forward by two working groups.  One has focused on the visual recording of evidence in chief and has addressed two issues i) improving and creating consistency in current approaches to visually recording Joint Investigative Interviews with certain child witnesses so that those interviews can be used more frequently as evidence in chief; and ii) extending the visual recording of investigative interviews and/or witness statements to other child and vulnerable adult witnesses.  The second focused on i) improving existing procedures for the taking of evidence by commissioner, developing a new Practice Note for use in the High Court; and ii) developing a future vision for taking all of the evidence of children and vulnerable adult witnesses in advance of trial and in some instances, in a completely different way.  The reports of both Groups and the new Practice Note were published in 2017.

JOINT INVESTIGATIVE INTERVIEWS WORK-STREAM REPORT

Evidence and Procedure Review - Report of the Pre-Recorded Further Evidence Work-Stream