Children in court - Part 2

Key point no 1

Preparation conducted in advance of the trial

a. The pre-trial visit

b. The Child Witness Pack

c. The individual responsible for preparation of child witnesses

d. Out of court preparation

a. The pre-trial visit

The pre-trial visit is intended to familiarise the child with the layout of the court, the workings of the Closed Circuit Television Link (CCTV) and basic court procedure. The visit focuses on preparation for going to court. It does not deal with evidential details.

Table: whether or not the child received a pre-trial visit

Pre-trial visit received

Sexual Charges Other Charges
1994 1995 1994 1995
Yes 219 269 26 61
No 92 80 111 103
Not Known 3 10 2 9
Total no of children 314 359 139 173

b. The Child Witness Pack

The Child Witness Pack (NSPCC/Childline, 1993) is a guide for parents, carers and children who have to attend court or support children giving evidence. The packs are not available free.

Use of the Child Witness Pack

Only a quarter of children had sight of The Child Witness Pack and a small decrease in its percentage use was observed between 1994 and 1995.

c. The individuals responsible for preparation of child witnesses

The research findings highlight the diverse occupations/backgrounds of those who prepared children for court. There appears to be little consistency across the courts surveyed, in the person responsible for the preparation of child witnesses.

Table: persons responsible for the preparation of child witnesses

Preparation done by Total No 1994 Total No 1995 Preparation done by Total No 1994 Total No 1995
Social Worker 36 22 Court Child Liaison Officer ** 1 2
Police Officer 197 68 Independent Adult * N/A 13
Parent/ Guardian 29 9 Other 32 10
Education Welfare Officer 1 0 Not Known 83 368
Witness Service 82 47 Total No of Children 461 539

* see The Child Witness Pack ** Court Service appointee responsible for liaison in cases involving child witnesses

d. Out of court preparation

Out of court preparation of child witnesses, which can include a home visit, is used to help familiarise the child with the processes and procedures involved in going to court to give evidence. Such visits are conducted at the child's home where they are likely to feel most at ease. Alternatively, visits can also be arranged at police stations or at any other appropriate venue.

In 1995, 8% of children received home visits. This can almost entirely be attributed to the practice of one participating Witness Service.

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