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Wednesday 11 October 2017, 3:31 PM
  • Live Link is a national, multi-agency criminal justice initiative to make more effective use of court resources and to provide a better service to victims and witnesses
  • It is available to those granted special measures and applies to police officers and staff, expert witnesses and victims and witnesses
  • Method is similar to Skype or Facetime and allows real-time, face to face conferencing into a room which becomes an extension of the court
  • Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl says the system is essential to Gloucestershire which now has only one crown court and one magistrates’ court

An eight year old was spared the ordeal of appearing in court to give evidence of an alleged assault against her dad thanks to the use of video technology.

 

Reconstruction of a 'witness' giving evidence by the Live Link

The young girl was able to give evidence to a Judge sitting in an out of county court from a secure video link in Gloucester through a system called ‘Live Link’.

It not only spared her the trauma of testifying in the presence of her father, it also saved time and made it much easier for her to give her evidence.

 

Live Link works like 'Facetime' so that the Judge and witness can see each other

The split screen ensures there is no-one else in the live link room prompting the witness

Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl said, “Live link can do much to de-traumatise such a potentially difficult situation. In this example, a little girl was able to tell her story freely, honestly and without fear of intimidation.

“Live link is very much like Skype or Facetime. As well as making it less stressful for victims and witnesses, giving evidence by video can make the administration of justice more efficient by reducing travel and not having police officers hanging around in court unnecessarily.

“Now that we only have one Crown Court and one Magistrates’ Court in Gloucestershire, it has become essential”.   

The Live Link room is an extension of the court and the witness has to follow the same rules....

The ‘Live Link’ is a permanent close-circuit television system based in a dedicated suite in Prism House, a police building on the Waterwells Estate in Quedgeley. It is an extension of the courtroom and is used for witnesses who might be vulnerable or need special treatment.

 

There is a Holy Book, relevant to each witness's faith, on which to swear before giving evidence....

Police officers now routinely give evidence from there, having been directed to do so by the Crown Court since 31 May. It means they can carry on working at their desks whilst waiting to be called.

...and a coded card system if the system is under stress or needs  a break

Mr Surl said, “Virtual hearings are a key component of reforms that are designed to modernise the outdated systems that still exist across the criminal justice system.

“The feedback has been positive from both victims and witnesses who said the experience was overall better and less scary than attending court.  A number of young children have given evidence into an out of county courthouse and parents have told us that the experience had not been as traumatic as they had feared and that the facilities were very good. 

“Judge Jamie Tabor and Judge Michael Cullum have visited the suite and commented on the excellence of the facilities and in particular the sound and video quality.

“It’s also been used in some high profile out of county cases in which witnesses told us they would not have provided evidence if they had been made to attend the courthouse itself”. 

 

Live link is permitted under changes to Criminal Justice Act 2003 as long as the court is satisfied it is in the interests of the competent and effective administration of justice. 

Gloucester Crown Court 

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