GLOUCESTERSHIRE Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl praises courts’ video technology for witnesses.

Live link is a permanent close-circuit television system based in a dedicated suite in Prism House, at the Police HQ in Quedgeley.

It gives witnesses, who are either vulnerable or young, the ability to testify in court without needing to be there.

Mr Surl uses the example of an eight-year-old girl who had to give evidence in a case about an alleged assault against her father.

He said: “Live link can do much to de-traumatise such a potentially difficult situation. In this example, a little girl was able to tell her story freely, honestly and without fear of intimidation.

“The feedback has been positive from both victims and witnesses who said the experience was overall better and less scary than attending court.

“A number of young children have given evidence into an out of county courthouse and parents have told us that the experience had not been as traumatic as they had feared and that the facilities were very good.”

Police officers now also routinely give evidence using the system, having been directed to do so by the Crown Court since May 31.

It means they can carry on working at their desks whilst waiting to be called.

Mr Surl said: “Virtual hearings are a key component of reforms that are designed to modernise the outdated systems that still exist across the criminal justice system.

“It can make the administration of justice more efficient by reducing travel and not having police officers hanging around in court unnecessarily.

“Now that we only have one Crown Court and one Magistrates’ Court in Gloucestershire, it has become essential”. Live link is permitted under changes to Criminal Justice Act 2003 as long as the court is satisfied it is in the interests of the competent and effective administration of justice.