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News Release

Resolution welcomes move by family courts to protect vulnerable witnesses

19 Mar 2015

Leading family justice organisation Resolution welcomes today’s publication of the Children and Vulnerable Witnesses report. The report, issued by the President of the Family Division, recommends changes that need to be made to the family courts to create a more supportive environment for children and the vulnerable.

Responding to the report, Resolution’s Elspeth Thomson, who leads the organisation’s work on legal aid, says:

“The family courts have for some time lagged well behind the criminal courts in their provision of safe and inclusive procedures for vulnerable witnesses. This shortfall was exacerbated by the loss of most family legal aid, which has led to, in some cases, victims of domestic violence being cross-examined by their abuser. We welcome the Children and Vulnerable Witnesses group's recognition that the family courts need reform to make them a less hostile environment.”

She continues: “We’re particularly pleased to see that attention is being given to support for witnesses in domestic abuse cases and the recommendation that the definition of ‘vulnerable’ is being extended to intimidated witnesses. This is an important first step towards helping some of our society’s most vulnerable people access justice in the family courts in a safe and supported manner.”

Resolution responded to the consultation on the interim report of the Children and Vulnerable Witnesses Working Group and looks forward to working with the Family Division on the steps that need to be taken to put these recommendations into practice.