Modernisation of the coroners system and better protection for witnesses during criminal investigations were amongst the new measures announced by Justice Secretary, Jack Straw, when he published the Coroners and Justice Bill.
The Bill is part of the Government’s aim to deliver a fairer, more transparent and responsive criminal justice system that puts the needs of victims at its heart.
I believe that putting the needs of victims and the witnesses of crime at the heart of the criminal justice system is essential. People tell me that they want to know that justice is on the side of the law-abiding majority.
One of the most important measures is extending the use of “special measures” in criminal proceedings (such as the use of live video links and screens around the witness box) so that vulnerable and intimidated witnesses can give their best evidence.
Another is to bring Investigation Anonymity Orders that will protect the identity of witnesses from the moment they contact the police.
This will give witnesses more confidence to come forward and giving them the support they need to testify in court. There will also be tougher Sentences for Public Protection for a greater number of offences – particularly those relating to terrorism.