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Ministers consider allowing rape victims to give evidence via pre-recorded videos to reduce stress

MINISTERS are considering allowing rape victims to give evidence via pre-recorded videos to spare them the trauma of cross-examination in court.

The proposals are part of a review led by Justice Secretary Robert Buckland and Home Secretary Priti Patel which aims to reduce stress on victims.

Under the plans, due to be unveiled next month, victims of abuse will be able to pre-record their evidence.

The plans will also call on judges to bar the public from the courtroom more often and ensure that police return mobile phones to victims within 24 hours.

Rape Crisis England & Wales national spokeswoman Katie Russell welcomed the proposals, explaining that cross-examination can be extremely traumatising for victims. 

“Pre-recording also allows evidence to be captured in a more timely way, and will hopefully reduce the negative impact on testimony of the long delays between reporting and cases reaching court,” she said. 

However, on rules around personal devices, she said that concerns still remain about the “disproportionate volumes of personal data irrelevant to the case that [are] routinely taken, examined and stored.” 

Ms Russell added that there is still a long way to go to address the significant failings of the criminal justice system on sexual violence and abuse. 

Labour welcomed the proposals but highlighted that the government has presided over the lowest level of rape prosecutions on record. 

Rape prosecutions have dropped by more than half in the last five years, and campaigners claimed last year that the decline is due to a secret change to Crown Prosecution Service policy.

Shadow solicitor general Ellie Reeves MP said: “We now need to look at the detail of what the Justice Secretary is doing to ensure that all survivors can benefit from giving their evidence as soon as possible.”

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