VULNERABLE victims and witnesses in Hampshire could be spared the trauma of attending court as technology allowing pre-recording of evidence sessions goes live.

Available at crown courts in the region immediately, the technology means cross-examinations can be video-recorded earlier in the process and played at trial.

This is to ensure that vulnerable victims – such as children or those who suffer from a debilitating condition - can provide their best evidence, away from the courtroom which many find intimidating.

Recording takes place as close to the time of the offence as possible in order to help memory recall, and reduce the stress of giving evidence to a full courtroom.

The move follows successful pilots in Liverpool, Leeds, and Kingston-upon-Thames, which demonstrated that victims felt less anxiety while pre-recording evidence.

The measure is now in place in 62 crown courts across England and Wales, with nationwide roll-out expected to complete by the end of the year.

The move is part of the Government’s wider efforts to support victims, which have seen an increase in funding for vital services and a strategy to place the sector on a more sustainable footing. Victims’ rights will also be guaranteed in a Victims’ Law in due course.

Justice Minister, Alex Chalk MP, said: “The court process can be extremely traumatic for vulnerable victims and is vital we minimise the stress on them where possible.

“This technology ensures they are protected and able to give their best possible evidence, without reducing a defendant’s right to a fair trial.

“This is just one part of our efforts to boost the support for victims at every stage of the justice system.”

Victims’ Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird, added: “I am very keen to see this service available nationwide and fully support its roll-out to all crown courts by the end of 2020. We’ve already seen, in the areas where it has been working for a while, that children and vulnerable adults who have been able to record their evidence in advance of a trial have experienced reduced anxiety as a result and we know that this measure can support earlier recovery from what are often traumatic events for them.

‘It’s so important that we’re able to provide practical support for the most vulnerable users of our criminal justice system. The increased availability of this special measure in more crown courts will give help to more vulnerable victims and witnesses, when they need it most.”

The decision to pre-record evidence is made by judges on a case-by-case basis. Crown courts in Wales, Greater Manchester, Yorkshire, Lancashire, Gloucester and the East of England will also be included in today’s rollout.