Order in Court Calling for a justice system fit for children
We're campaigning for vital changes to make our justice system fair, age appropriate, and fit for children.
What we are calling for
Vital changes are needed to ensure young people in the justice system are treated first and foremost as children. Specifically:
- Young witnesses should have access to a Registered Intermediary - a trained communications expert - to help them understand what is happening with the police and court whenever necessary
- Children should be able to give their evidence from a location away from court
- All judges and lawyers taking child sexual abuse cases should undertake mandatory specialist training
Major success for Order in Court
Three months after we launched the campaign, the Government announced a series of changes to protect vulnerable witnesses in the justice system.
By March 2015 the Government has committed to:
- ensuring that barristers who take part in sexual abuse cases receive compulsory training so that vulnerable witnesses are treated with the care they deserve
- vulnerable witnesses having greater opportunity to give evidence from a place where they feel comfortable, rather than having to go to court, with at least one such location available in each court region
This is fantastic news, marking a significant step forward on two key aspects of our campaign. Without your support this would not have been possible.
More work needs to be done to achieve our other campaign call – to ensure all child witnesses have the option of the support of a Registered Intermediary (a trained communications expert) and we're keeping up the fight.
Order in Court secures important changes for young witnesses
"I was scared no one would believe me"
Alice was sexually abused when she was very young. The Young Witness Service helped her feel supported when she gave evidence in court.
Thank you to everyone who has supported the campaign so far. Thousands of people sent letters to their MPs, whilst over 21,000 people signed our petition calling for remote sites. The petition was delivered to 10 Downing Street on 05 September 2014.
Twenty-five years after a better deal for child witnesses was recommended by a leading judge we seem to have finally set course for this to become a reality. However, this is just the start of a journey which must result in a criminal justice system treating children in the right way when they are courageous enough to help bring abusers to justice. We'll keep you updated on our work to achieve this.
Learn more about the campaign by visiting the Order in Court blog and get involved by sharing your opinions on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Remember to use the hashtag #OrderInCourt to make your opinions heard.
Names and identifying features have been changed to protect identity. Photographs have been posed by models.