Resolution welcomes finding that action is needed to protect children and vulnerable witnesses in the Family Court

14 Aug 2014

The interim report from a working group of judges on cases involving children and vulnerable witnesses has recognised that more needs to be done to ensure adequate protection in the courts.

The Children and Vulnerable Witnesses Working Group, set up by President of the Family Division Sir James Munby, is reviewing guidelines on children’s involvement and communication with the professionals working on their case and how children and vulnerable people give evidence in family proceedings. Children are considered to be vulnerable people for the purposes of the review.

The Interim Report of the Children and Vulnerable Witnesses Working Group, released on 12 August, criticises the current arrangements in the Family Court, noting that the Family Court ‘lag woefully behind’ the criminal justice system, with processes that are no longer tolerated in the Crown Court.

Resolution welcomes the initial findings from the interim report. Since our inception we have campaigned to make courts a safer place for children and young people. Our purpose is to make sure that young people are protected throughout the family justice system and that their wellbeing is prioritised, something which has been made more difficult by the cuts to family legal aid. The Interim Report represents the start of a journey towards making our justice system fit for children.

The next step for the Children and Vulnerable Witnesses Working Group is consultation with Family Division Judges and the Family Justice Counsel, followed by a wider consultation on the draft rules. The new rules are scheduled to be in place by the beginning of 2015.

Resolution will be responding to the consultation with our members’ expert views on what needs to be done to protect the most vulnerable in our justice system.