Does the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) conduct pre-trial interviews, where the witnesses involved are children or vulnerable? If so, are any special measures taken?
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) may decide to conduct a pre-trial interview with a witness. Pre-trial interviews are used to assess the reliability of their evidence or to better understand complex evidence. Such interviews can enable CPS to reach a better informed decision about the case. You do not have to attend a pre-trial interview with CPS; your attendance is voluntary.
Special care is taken when deciding whether to hold a pre-trial interview with a child or vulnerable witness. The purpose of video recording their original evidence is to preserve it at an early stage and protect them from having to continually repeat their account. Pre-trial interviews with such witnesses will therefore only be held in exceptional cases.
If further clarification is required, consideration will be given to asking the original interviewer to assist via an additional video recorded interview, as they will have already built a rapport with the witness and will have the special skills required to explore the issue more gently
If a decision is made to conduct a pre-trial interview, consideration will be given to the age and degree of vulnerability of the witness. Where the original statement was video recorded the pre-trial interview will also be video recorded. An appropriate venue will be chosen and in most cases, the police video interview suite will be used. The will be allowed to have appropriate support and the prosecutor will take advice from a trained police interviewer as to the questions to be asked.
A Code of Practice has been created to support the process for pre-trial interviews. A copy of this Code of Practice can be viewed via the CPS website in related links.