09 Jan 9th January 2019
Pre-recorded evidence in Scottish courts ‘will help avoid re-trauma’
Allowing vulnerable witnesses to give evidence without being in court could ultimately help protect alleged rape victims from being “re-traumatised” by reliving their ordeal, Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf has told MSPs. The Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee is considering a bill which would allow victims in the most serious cases to give pre-recorded evidence instead.
Overworked police ‘can’t run courses for speeders’
Rank-and-file officers have warned that plans for speed awareness courses could put pressure on over-stretched frontline police. The Mail revealed yesterday that speeding motorists are set to be spared fines and points on their licences under plans to introduce the scheme. South of the Border, the courses – aimed at educating drivers about the dangers of speeding – are usually delivered by outside providers, with motorists paying towards the cost of providing them. Prosecutors in Scotland are examining proposals for a similar scheme, but have not disclosed who would be responsible for administering it. Last night, Scottish Police Federation general secretary Calum Steele said: “If the courses are paid for by the motorist, and an outside provider runs the schemes, then it’s hard to see how there could be any reasonable objection. But there would be a concern if there was an attempt to get frontline officers to deliver these courses because the police service is already overstretched and simply doesn’t have the capacity to do this.’ Police Scotland has submitted a plan for the scheme to Lord Advocate James Wolffe, QC, who is ‘carefully’ considering the move. The courses have become popular in England and Wales as an alternative to prosecution – and can allow drivers to avoid costly hikes in their insurance premiums. Neil Greig of the IAM RoadSmart motoring group said that only a few police forces south of the Border deliver courses, with the rest administered by private providers. He added: ‘We would anticipate in Scotland the same model would be followed, so it’s unlikely the police themselves would end up doing it unless they wanted to. ‘It seems to work pretty well in England – over a million drivers went through courses last year, and people who complete them are less likely to reoffend.’ But a spokesman for the Alliance of British Drivers said the ‘unethical and legally dubious diversion of drivers to speed awareness courses is primarily about generating money, not about road safety. Asked who would provide the courses, Police Scotland said the decision was still to be made by the Lord Advocate. The Crown Office said the courses were still under consideration and it could not comment further.
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