Imagine stepping into a courtroom, knowing you’re about to give evidence against your attacker. Will you be able to think clearly and calmly? Maybe you’ll be pressured or accused of lying by a lawyer, or possibly, the person you’re giving evidence against will try and intimidate you whilst you’re there. This is a reality that adult and even child witnesses have to endure.
In a , it was found that 69 percent of witnesses surveyed said that they either feared or had experienced intimidation during the process of having to give evidence in court. This intimidation was experienced whilst waiting to give evidence and even whilst evidence was being given.
As we rely so heavily on honest testimonies from witnesses in court systems across the world, it is paramount that these individuals are thinking clearly, feel safe in their surroundings and can speak without the fear of repercussions from the defendant or the defendant’s family. With the most common reported source of anxiety being when the witness saw the defendant or their associates, it is clear that more needs to be done to separate the witness from the defendant during this process – technology already available can provide a solution.
A , enables a witness to give evidence from a safe space nearer their home where they can be comfortable, speak confidently and most importantly, not be intimidated in the courtroom environment by the defendant or their associates.
In the study, it was found that 91 percent of witnesses who had given video-recorded evidence found it helpful due to ‘not having to appear in court’, ‘easier to say things’, feeling ‘less scared’ and it ‘helped witnesses to remember details’.
Taking advantage of this technology will not only make the process of giving evidence easier for a witness, but will also:
Reduce stress from travelling to and from the courtroom. Reduce the cost of travelling for the witness / taxpayer. Reduce stress from waiting outside courtroom preparing to give evidence. Eliminate the possibility of the witness seeing the defendant outside of court. Eliminate the need for a chaperone in court for younger witnesses. Eliminate some of the considerations necessary for witnesses with disabilities.
Now in 2019, this technology is available to be utilised by courts, lawyers and legal teams to help anxious or vulnerable witnesses give evidence, in cases where it may be difficult for them to do so in person. Since 1998 have helped connect witnesses and defendants for video court hearings worldwide. After already connecting to over 875 courts worldwide in 2018, they continue to spearhead the approach to tackle issues such as witness intimidation in court.