The Vulnerable in Court:

The Use of Live Link and Screens

'Even if the benefits of the live link and screens were more obvious to criminal practitioners, tactical concerns surrounding securing best (most impactful) evidence and the jury’s impression of the defendant would likely continue to deter the defence from securing the measures for vulnerable defendants.'

Victims, witnesses and those accused of crimes are often required to give evidence in criminal trials. Children and/or those suffering from a mental health condition or learning disability/difficulty are considered vulnerable. Others are intimidated by the court process. For such vulnerable or intimidated individuals, it is often much more difficult to give evidence effectively in court, yet their evidence can be vital to the case.

Adaptions – called special measures –can be made to the criminal trial in cases involving vulnerable and/or intimidated people. These special measures seek to enable these participants to give their best evidence.

The research of Birmingham Law School's Dr Samantha Fairclough (‘It doesn’t happen... and I’ve never thought it was necessary for it to happen’: Barriers to Vulnerable Defendants Giving Evidence by Live Link in Crown Court Trials’) focuses on the provision and use of special measures including the live link (giving evidence via video link from a room outside of the courtroom) and screens (giving evidence from behind a screen in court so as not to be seen).