Justice is ‘at risk’ from the rise of video evidence used in trials, lawyers warn


Justice is ‘at risk’ from the increase of video proof utilized in trials, lawyers warn, in spite of CPS chief insisting the way witnesses give statements in court has fallen at the rear of modern engineering

  • Max Hill QC suggests the way witnesses give proof in court docket is powering technologies
  • He believes allowing for movie statements could make trials much more efficient
  • But critics fear these kinds of a transfer could lead to ‘havoc’ and chance miscarriages of justice 

Moves to permit more court proof to be given on movie could guide to a increase in the range of miscarriages of justice, attorneys warned final evening.

The proposal is part of sweeping variations remaining set ahead by the head of the Crown Prosecution Assistance.

Max Hill QC says the way witnesses give proof in court docket has fallen driving modern technological innovation.

The Director of General public Prosecutions promises that allowing video statements, rather of the current method of witnesses giving proof in courtroom, could make trials a lot more economical.

His ideas to massively prolong the use of video clip proof would also consist of footage from police officers’ entire body cams.

But very last night time major barrister Daniel Janner QC said the DPP’s proposals could lead to ‘havoc’ and even guide to miscarriages of justice.

Max Hill QC says the way witnesses give evidence in court has fallen behind modern technology. (stock image of Lady Justice)

Max Hill QC suggests the way witnesses give evidence in courtroom has fallen driving modern technological know-how. (inventory image of Woman Justice) 

‘It is crucial that the complainant’s proof is tested effectively and fairly, so that a jury can make a final decision,’ Mr Janner said.

‘These proposals are bordering on building a program in which a suspect does not get an suitable right to cross-look at and examination the evidence. 

‘They could cause havoc in the legal justice system, and in the administration of justice.’

He mentioned he thought the DPP is coming underneath ‘unfair pressure’ from victims’ rights teams to introduce alterations that hazard skewing the court docket procedure far too heavily towards defendants.

Mr Hill mentioned in a speech at King’s University London yesterday: ‘The existing way in which witness proof is adduced has not retained tempo with present day technologies.

‘The system of providing reside evidence must not be a check of a witness’s memory – and in some strategies our latest method depends on outdated assumptions all over witnesses and the intent of providing evidence. 

‘Might the courtroom – and justice – be better served if witnesses recorded a online video assertion at an early stage in the proceedings, which is then played as their proof-in-main?

‘This already happens as a particular measure for susceptible victims and witnesses. And might entire body-worn online video, which law enforcement officers immediately history at crime scenes, be just one way to file these statements?’

Any improvements to the way witnesses give proof are most likely to will need changes to the legislation made by Parliament.

Mr Hill also advocated carrying on with remote court hearings – released for the duration of the pandemic – for simpler cases.

Any changes to the way witnesses give evidence are likely to need adjustments to the law made by Parliament. (stock image)

Any changes to the way witnesses give evidence are probably to need adjustments to the legislation built by Parliament. (inventory graphic) 

Trials should really carry on to be read in individual, he reported, including: ‘Remote hearings are not normally ideal – there are sure varieties of hearing which it is crucial to hold in particular person. That is why I advocate a combined-economic system approach.’

The DPP also called for scrutiny of recent policies which let automated legal rights of appeal by anybody convicted at magistrates’ courts. 

This kind of situations incorporate youth courts, which could offer with significant offences this kind of as rape.

It implies that victims and witnesses have to confront the trauma of providing their proof once again prior to a crown courtroom.

‘I am obvious that the correct to charm a choice must stay,’ he stated. 

‘But why not adopt a program – like that from the crown court docket, which calls for authorization to appeal from a choose – which would sift out instances with out merit?’

Crown courts have a backlog of more than 60,000 cases.



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