A CHILDREN’S charity is urging people in South Lakeland to sign an e-petition calling for the Government to set up more remote video link sites.
These are designated places away from a court building which young witnesses can give evidence from. Just three police forces - South Wales, Kent and Derbyshire - currently have this facility.
The children’s charity hopes that the e-petition will attract 21,000 signatures nationally – one for every child who gives evidence in court each year – by September 5.
The e-petition is just one element of the NSPCC’s Order in Court campaign, which is aiming to help reduce the distress that children experience when participating in court proceedings.
The NSPCC is writing to all the Police and Crime Commissioners across England and Wales to highlight the urgent need to address the treatment of young victims and witnesses in the criminal justice system and prioritise facilities for these children.
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Bernadette Oxley, NSPCC regional head of service for the North West and Cumbria, said: “Twenty-five years after the landmark Pigot Report, a major Home Office inquiry which recommended that child witnesses should not be required to appear in open court, there are still thousands of child sexual abuse victims being left fearful, unhappy and with thoughts of self-harm after having to give evidence.
“Attending court can be an intimidating enough experience for an adult, so for a child giving evidence in an abuse case, it must be harrowing and could easily discourage others who have suffered to come forward.”
She continued: “A child who has been sexually abused shouldn’t have to worry about seeing the offender in court. Ensuring that there is a remote site in all regions should help reduce the stress that children can face when they give evidence.”
The Order in Court campaign is also calling for compulsory training for lawyers and barristers to prevent ‘brutal’ court cross-examinations and greater access to registered intermediaries - trained communication experts - to help them understand what is happening with the police and court.