The Justice Secretary for Scotland, Mr Yousaf has been reported to have ruled out a new approach for dealing with child witnesses in Scotland that would prevent them from having to give evidence in court, on more than one time.
The Scottish government was considering an approach that currently operates in Norway where children, under 16, give evidence outwith the courtroom in a single interview with a trained professional. This is their only evidence and they do not have to give evidence in criminal courts.
This usually takes place in the child’s home or a safe place. The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service outlined their support for this approach earlier this year. However, Mr Yousaf has now stated in a letter: “While the ‘one forensic interview’ approach, which is in place in many Barnahus models across Europe, would not be feasible in the Scottish adversarial system at this time, consideration can be given to how the existing ways evidence is pre-recorded can be incorporated as part of the adaptation of the concept for Scotland.” However, it is accepted widely that with Scotland’s current system such an approach could be detrimental to the defence as there is no opportunity for cross examination.