HC Deb 22 December 1983 vol 51 cc336-7W
Mr. Campbell-Savours

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if, in the light of the damage which may be caused to children who are called to give evidence in open court in cases which receive great publicity, he will consider introducing legislation to regulate the practice; and if he will make a statement;

(2) whether, in the case of trials for sexual offences, he will introduce measures to ensure that evidence from minors is taken informally and in camera on all occasions.

Mr. Mellor

The giving of evidence by children or young people in any case involving an offence against decency or morality is already regulated by section 37 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933, which provides that the court may be cleared while this takes place. Although this section does not give power to exclude the press, section 39 of the same Act (amended by section 57 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1963) provides that the court may direct that no newspaper or broadcast report should include any particulars calculated to lead to the identification of any child or young persons in the proceedings. Courts are aware of the need to do everything possible to mitigate the ordeal for a child witness—particularly in cases concerning sexual offences, and we have no present plans for further legislation.

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