[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 5 September 2005, 08:17 GMT 09:17 UK
Child witness issues scrutinised
Child witness
Delegates will discuss how to help child witnesses
A three-day conference discussing issues surrounding the use of child witnesses has opened in Edinburgh.

About 100 experts have gathered for the conference, which has been organised by the University of Dundee.

Opening the event, Elish Angiolini QC, the Solicitor General for Scotland, said children should find giving evidence less intimidating.

In July, a CD-Rom was launched to help young people in Scotland prepare for giving evidence in court.

It features scenes filmed in court with a real sheriff, outlining procedures such as giving evidence by video-link or from behind a screen.

Mrs Angiolini said child witnesses must be helped to overcome their fears.

"Giving evidence is a crucial element of the criminal justice process, but can be a very difficult experience, especially for young and vulnerable witnesses," she said.

Elish Angiolini QC
Giving evidence is a crucial element of the criminal justice process, but can be a very difficult experience
Elish Angiolini QC
Solicitor General

"Clearly children and young people will have their own particular concerns about the experience and we owe it to them to ensure that we have the best skills and that we do what we can to make the whole experience less intimidating.

"This conference provides an excellent opportunity to share best practice and learn from colleagues in other countries."

Keynote speakers at the conference include Lucy Berliner, director of the Harborview Center for Sexual Assault and Traumatic Stress in Seattle.

'Complementary fashion'

Brigid Daniel, professor of childcare and protection at the University of Dundee, said the conference offered delegates the chance to become better listeners.

"There is great value in professionals from different areas in law and social work working together and being trained together in a complementary fashion," she said.

"Children must be offered a sensitive and supportive environment in which to recount their traumatic experiences.

"Our aim is to improve the protection of children by ensuring that professionals work together effectively and offer children the opportunity to be listened to."




SEE ALSO:
Children get hi-tech court guide
28 Jul 05 |  Scotland
Streamlined court system in place
01 Apr 05 |  Scotland
'Quick justice' for minor cases
22 Mar 05 |  Scotland


RELATED BBC LINKS:

RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific