HC Deb 27 April 1932 vol 265 cc382-3W
Viscountess ASTOR

asked the Home Secretary if, having regard to the increase in indecent assaults on young persons, especially on children under 12 years of age, the number of cases in which defendants are acquitted because the unsworn evidence of the child cannot be accepted without corroboration, and the difficulties of obtaining corroboration since these offences are usually committed when the child is alone, he will consider taking steps to give effect to the recommendations of the Committee on Sexual Offences against Young Persons that, whenever it is justifiable, the evidence of a. child who appears able to tell a connected story will be taken on oath and that those conducting prosecutions should bear in mind that the absence of corroboration in the case of a child whose evidence has been given on oath is not a bar to a conviction?


It is obviously desirable that, wherever justifiable. the evidence of a child who can tell a connected story should be taken on oath, and I am advised that in view of the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeal in R. V. Crocker (17 C.A.R. 4546), the absence of corroboration is not a bar in law to a conviction except where corroboration is required by Statute. The recommendations if the committee on these points, which are really suggestions as to the presentation and reception of evidence, were with other recommendations of the committee commended to the careful consideration of all concerned in the Circular which was issued from the Home Office on 17th September, 1926. The recommendations in question are for the courts and others to consider, rather than for the Home Secretary to give effect to; but no doubt the publicity given to the matter by this question and answer will attract the attention again of those concerned.