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Issued: Tuesday, 21 October 2014
Minister for Women Pru Goward, Attorney General Brad Hazzard and Minister for Police and Emergency Services Stuart Ayres today announced NSW will be the first state in Australia to allow domestic violence victims to give evidence in court via a pre-recorded video statement.
The Government will introduce changes to the Criminal Procedure Act 1986 today following the roll-out of video and still cameras in 'Domestic Violence Evidence Kits' used by the NSW Police Force.
Minister Goward leads the Government's approach to domestic and family violence and said the change will be an incredible step forward for victims, greatly reducing the stress and trauma of giving evidence in court.
"Allowing video-recorded statements to stand as evidence in chief in court will empower traumatised and vulnerable domestic and family violence victims," Ms Goward said.
"Relying on a video-recorded statement reduces the possibility of the perpetrator intimidating the victim by trying to coerce them into withdrawing or changing their original version of events."
The recording will be taken with the victim's consent at the scene of a domestic violence incident or shortly afterwards. The prosecution will take the victims' views into account when deciding whether to use the recording in court but will also consider if the victim has been coerced or threatened.
Attorney General Brad Hazzard said the reforms recognise domestic violence is a unique form of offence.
"Domestic violence victims are at particular risk of re-traumatisation by the court process, which means the prosecution often fails for lack of the victim's evidence," Mr Hazzard said.
"This is about empowering victims of domestic and family violence so they have the confidence and security to take part in the criminal justice system."
Minister for Police and Emergency Services Stuart Ayres said increasing the use of video statements would help frontline police better protect and support domestic violence victims.
"This is a change which will help our front-line police ensure statements from victims who have experienced horrific acts of domestic and family violence end up in court," Mr Ayres said.
"Special provision will also be made for the perpetrator to access the video for trial and safeguards will be created to prevent the improper use of the video statement."
Minister Goward said maximising the use of video and photographic evidence in domestic violence cases is one element of NSW Government's Domestic and Family Violence Framework for Reform, It Stops Here, and demonstrates the Government's commitment to protecting victims' rights.
"Our message is loud and clear, domestic and family violence is a crime- these changes will assist in justice being served to criminals," Ms Goward said.
More information on the NSW Government's domestic violence reforms, It Stops Here,and help for victims can be found at www.domesticviolence.nsw.gov.au