Delays increase anxiety of child witnesses

Child witnesses in Crown Court sex abuse and violence cases are waiting for more than a year to give evidence, despite government promises to the contrary.

An NSPCC report, Measuring Up?, published in July showed Crown Court trials involving child witnesses take on average two months longer than other cases to come to trial, and more than a third are rescheduled more than once, adding to children’s anxiety. Researchers interviewed 182 children, aged between five to nineteen, parents and witness support professionals.  

NSPCC lawyer Barbara Esam said: “Speeding up young witness cases has been government policy since 1988 and is frequently re-stated but has still not been achieved.”

The charity is calling on the government to enforce its policy of fast-tracking criminal cases involving young witnesses and to monitor delays.