§ Mrs. Golding
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will give the results of his consultations on the use of video technology at trials of alleged child abusers; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. John Patten
My right hon. Friend asked for views, first on the detailed implementation of our proposal to permit children to give evidence by closed-circuit television. We are still receiving helpful comments on this, and will bear these carefully in mind, together with observations made in this House and another place, when the time comes to implement proposals in the Criminal Justice Bill.
Secondly, we asked for views on whether video recordings of interviews with children should be more readily admissible at trials. The responses generally show enthusiasm for this, on grounds with which we have much sympathy. But there are serious problems. In particular, a video recording which is helpful for investigative purposes is likely to present at least part of the child's evidence in a form inadmissible as evidence at the trial. Further, the benefits for the child envisaged by most responses would not be realised unless the use of the recording at the trial meant that the child need not give oral evidence. We believe, however, that it is vital in the interests of justice for the right of the defence to cross-examine the alleged victim to be preserved.
As explained in the debate in another place on 22 October, we therefore feel that on balance easier admissibility of video recordings would not meet the twin tests of benefit to the child and interests of justice.