HC Deb 22 December 1997 vol 303 cc549-50W
Mr. Clappison

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the operation of section 32 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 in respect of provision for the attendance of witnesses to be dispensed with in certain cases and for evidence to be given by way of a television link; and what plans he has to extend its provisions to cover other classes or proceedings. [21512]

Mr. Michael

An independent evaluation of the provisions for the use of television links for child witnesses was conducted on behalf of the Home Office in 1991 by Professor Graham Davies and Elizabeth Noon of Leicester University who concluded that the live link had a positive and facilitating effect on the courtroom testimony of children. Section 32 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988, which allowed children under 14 years of age to give evidence by way of live television links, was extended by the Criminal Justice Act 1991 to include children under 17 years of age in cases involving sexual assault. The possible further extension of its use is one of the issues being considered by the inter-departmental working group on vulnerable or intimidated witnesses which was announced by my right hon. Friend on 13 June.

Mr. Mike O'Brien

The available information is given in the table. Reliable information regarding the proportion of applications conceded by the Home Office can be obtained only through examination of individual case records and is therefore available only at disproportional cost.