§ Dr. Godman
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proposals he has to change the legislation regarding the cross-examination of child witnesss in cases of alleged child abuse, neglect and sexual abuse; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Jack
None, at present. The Criminal Justice Act 1991 introduced new provisions relating to the taking of evidence from children. These provisions derive from the recommendations of Judge Pigot's advisory group and are designed to reduce the stress of criminal proceedings for child witnesses.
In particular, video recorded interviews with child witnesses will now be admissible in place of a child's evidence in chief and the availability of live television links for abused children giving evidence and being crossexamined—introduced by the Criminal Justice Act 1988 —will be extended. Under no circumstances will the accused be allowed to question a child in person.
We will be monitoring the effectiveness of these reforms and in the light of experience with them will, of course, consider whether any further changes are needed.