The SNP Government is funding a £2 million programme which involves pre-recorded investigative interviews of children conducted jointly by police officers and social work staff.
A key aim of the new Scottish Child Interview Model – developed by local authorities and Police Scotland in a series of pilot projects - is to protect children and reduce stress when recounting their experiences.
These core principles are embedded in a new intensive training course at graduate diploma level for police and social work interviewers run at the Police Scotland College at Tulliallan, in Fife.
Improving the quality of joint interviews, which are already used in Children’s Hearings, will also ensure they can be more routinely used as a witness’s evidence in chief in criminal trials, increasing the use of pre-recorded evidence.
The Vulnerable Witnesses (Criminal Evidence) (Scotland) Act 2019 created a new rule for child witnesses under 18 to ensure that, where they are due to give evidence in the most serious cases, they will be allowed to have it pre-recorded in advance of the trial.
The regulations ensure that any child witness under the age of 18 giving evidence in the most serious cases in the High Court will be allowed to have it pre-recorded, intending to spare them the potential trauma of giving evidence during a trial.
Kenneth Gibson MSP said:
“When gathering information from children, who are often already extremely traumatised, it’s important to ensure the interview is as child-focused and stress-free as possible.
“The new Scottish Child Interview Model will deliver an interview process that secures the child’s best evidence at the earliest opportunity and minimises the risk of further traumatisation.”