First live video link for vulnerable victims and witnesses set up in West Sussex
Vulnerable victims and witnesses will be able to give evidence remotely to courts around the country after a live video link was installed at a venue in West Sussex.
Sussex Police’s victim suite has been converted to offer the option of giving evidence via a live link Ministry of Justice network to a suitable magistrates or crown court.
The work has been made possible following Home Office funding sought by Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne (pictured with Lady Emma Barnard, High Sheriff of West Sussex) and forms part of a wider project being led by the Sussex PCC to improve access to justice in the county through video live links.
Earlier this month, the Home Office awarded £11m to the Sussex PCC-led Video-Enabled Justice project across London and the south east. The initiative means that police officers and certain vulnerable witnesses no longer have to travel to court or spend hours waiting for their slot and aims to offer greater flexibility whilst saving time and money.
“This video link means that young children and other vulnerable victims and witnesses living in West Sussex have an alternative to undergoing the trauma of appearing in court in person nor will they have to travel long distances to attend trials at other court locations,” says Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne.
“My office has been working with all criminal justice partners to ensure we can provide the best level of service to vulnerable victims and witnesses.”
Cases will be heard via the centre’s video link from Monday, 18 September, and similar premises are being sought in East Sussex and Brighton and Hove.
Superintendent Jayne Dando from Sussex Police says: “I am pleased to be a part of such an exciting and innovative facility here on West Sussex.
“By working closely with our criminal justice partners we have been able to provide a safe, secure and welcoming place where vulnerable witnesses can come to, to give their evidence through a video link direct into court without having to attend in person.
“Going to court can be a difficult experience and we hope that the live link suite will encourage more witnesses and victims to agree to give their evidence, increase their confidence in the criminal justice system and reduce anxiety of potentially seeing the defendant at court.”
Frances Amos, Senior Manager for Victim Support’s Sussex Young Witness Service, says: “The West Sussex live link suite is an inspirational and forward-thinking model which will bring huge benefits and reassurance to all young and vulnerable victims and witnesses of crime living in the West Sussex area.
“The Victim Support Sussex Young Witness Service have been delighted to be part of this multi-agency initiative. Our extensive support of young and vulnerable victims and witnesses will now extend to include the live link suite and we very much support the potential development of remote live links in other locations across Sussex.”
Jo Last, Area Manager Surrey and Sussex for Citizens Advice Witness Service, which provides support to child witnesses in magistrate courts as well as adults in both crown and magistrates, also welcomed the new technology.
“This live link offers an improved experience for child witnesses and vulnerable and intimidated adults. As the lead agency supporting witnesses pre-trial and whilst giving evidence at the victim suite, Citizens Advice Witness Service welcomes this new suite and looks forward to helping making it a success,” she said.
Notes for Editors:
To read more about video-enabled justice, please visit www.sussex-pcc.gov.uk/our-priorities/access-to-justice/video-enabled-justice-vej