CHILD witnesses in the most serious court cases will be able to give their evidence on a video recorded before the trial from early 2020.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf, who confirmed new regulations had been laid at Holyrood, said being able to record testimony on video will spare youngsters the “trauma of giving evidence during a trial”.

The new provisions will initially cover certain High Court cases, such as murder, culpable homicide and assault to the danger of life, as well as some domestic abuse trials, sex abuse trials and prosecutions for human trafficking and exploitation.

Yousaf used a visit to a new Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service evidence and hearings facility to discuss the plans. He said: “Today we have laid the regulations to ensure that any child witness under the age of 18 giving evidence in the most serious cases will be allowed to have it pre-recorded, sparing them the trauma of giving evidence during a trial.”

He went on: “As these reforms will affect live cases it is necessary to make transitional arrangements so the new rule will apply to cases where the accused first appears on petition on or after January 20, 2020.

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“We plan to ensure that these reforms are evaluated at each stage of the rollout to ensure the smooth implementation in practice of such important changes in how these vulnerable children will give their evidence.”

The Justice Secretary added: “I have said previously that legislative reform is only a small part of the work that is needed to ensure that there is much greater use of pre-recording within the justice system.

“The other part of that jigsaw is why we are here today ­– by beginning the process on delivering sufficient and modern facilities and reliable pre-recording technology.

“We were delighted to be able to provide funding of almost £1 million to assist in the development of this progressive and modern venue.”

Yousaf said it is “absolutely imperative” that the Scottish Government continues to deliver on its promises and continually looks at ways to improve how children and vulnerable witnesses participate in the criminal justice system.