In recent months Emma has been working with the NSPCC to convince the Government to bring in new protections for victims. The Government has listened, and in the Ministry of Justice’s new document Our Commitment to Victims it sets a new priority to “Strengthen the protection for vulnerable victims by making the experience of going to court a better one.”
This includes a commitment to give vulnerable witnesses the option to give evidence at a remote location away from court, with at least one ‘remote site’ made available in each region for them to do so.
Publicly-funded advocates who work on cases of sexual abuse will also be required to have specialist training on how to work with vulnerable witnesses.
The changes are a major victory for young victims of abuse, who will now receive extra support to help them feel safe and comfortable when giving evidence.
These changes were two of the cornerstones of the NSPCC’s Order In Court campaign, which Emma has backed in Parliament and in South Shields. In July Emma explained to the Victims Minister how witnesses often felt intimidated by aggressive questioning in court. Emma has also written to the Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria, Vera Baird, to explore ways of improving the availability of remote sites in our own area.
Emma has also written for the NPSCC’s Order In Court blog, speaking about her own experiences of working with vulnerable children and the distress they felt in court.
“This is great news for young victims and for our justice system. For too long victims of sexual abuse have had to re-live their experiences in court, often coming face-to-face with their abuser. That experience can be traumatic for young children, and so the changes the Government has announced are very welcome.
“I want to congratulate the NSPCC and all those who have campaigned for this change on their hard work. I hope that the Ministry of Justice will be able to work closely with them as these changes are introduced so that we can make sure victims feel safe and supported in our justice system.”