Supporting vulnerable witnesses

Investment in specialist evidence suites to reduce trauma.

More child and vulnerable adult witnesses involved in serious criminal trials will have access to specialist suites to pre-record evidence, away from the courtroom, following a further £2 million investment from the Scottish Government.

The funding means dedicated facilities – known as Evidence by Commissioner (EBC) suites – will be established in areas covered by two sheriffdoms which don’t currently have their own designated facilities. The suites create safe, managed, trauma-informed environments where witnesses are supported to provide their best evidence as early as possible. Evidence shows that allowing children and vulnerable witnesses to pre-record evidence reduces stress and the risk of re-traumatisation.

The two new suites will cover the North Strathclyde and South Strathclyde, Dumfries & Galloway Sheriffdoms.

They will add to the Scottish Court and Tribunal Service’s (SCTS) four existing bespoke EBC suites (located in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness), and a fifth one due to open in Dundee this summer – meaning there will be country-wide provision by April 2026.

The total investment from Government for the existing suites and the two new facilities being established is more than £4 million. Hundreds of children and vulnerable adult witnesses have already benefitted from using the suites and the additional funding means many more will get access to such facilities.

The Scottish Government is also providing a further £500,000 to Victim Support Scotland to develop access to their remote evidence suites in Edinburgh, increasing the support they already provide to victims and witnesses of crime in their suite in Glasgow.

Speaking on a visit to Victim Support Scotland’s remote evidence suite in Glasgow, Justice Secretary Angela Constance said:

“This significant investment in our court estate means that children and those who have been victims of some of the most traumatic crimes are supported to give their best evidence as early as possible in the process, and in advance of trial.

“Vulnerable witnesses across the country will have access to specialist, modern and purpose-built suites to pre-record their evidence, helping to reduce the risk of re-traumatisation. This, and other support available, will help victims and witnesses to start on the path to recovery at the earliest possible stage.

“Putting victims and witnesses at the heart of the justice system is part of our Vision for Justice. The EBC suites, along with landmark reforms proposed in the Victims, Witnesses and Justice Reform Bill, which Parliament is considering at Stage 1 this week, will build a trauma-informed justice system that victims and witnesses can have confidence in.”

Danielle McLaughlin, The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service’s Head of Implementation said:

“The judicially led Evidence and Procedure Review, supported by the SCTS, made clear the importance of taking a new approach to ensuring children and vulnerable adult witnesses can give the best quality of evidence as early as possible, while minimising further trauma. Today’s announcement, confirming the next steps in the implementation of a statutory pre-recorded evidence presumption is a key step in ensuring that vision.

“An essential part in minimising trauma when giving evidence is by securing and using the best environment available. SCTS is committed to the further development and expansion of trauma informed evidence by commission facilities across a wider geographical reach. We welcome this additional £2 million funding which will help us to take the next initial steps to create additional commission facilities ensuring that we have at least one commission facility within the geographical reach of each sheriffdom.”  

Kate Wallace, Chief Executive of Victim Support Scotland, welcomed the extra £500,000 funding for its remote evidence facilities,

She said:

“We at Victim Support Scotland are entirely committed to supporting victims and witnesses to give their best evidence.

“Victims consistently tell us about the traumatic impact of giving evidence, including the anxiety of attending an often-intimidating court building. Being able to give evidence in a location different to the court, known as remote evidence, can help reduce this dramatically.

“This welcome funding from the Scottish Government will allow us to extend remote evidence suites to our new office facility in Edinburgh to complement the remote evidence suites at our Glasgow offices.

“We’re delighted to be able to embrace available technology to offer more choice and control to victims and witnesses.”


The 2019 Vulnerable Witnesses (Scotland) Act introduced a presumption that evidence from under 18s should be pre-recorded in High Court cases, which will be extended to children aged under 16 giving evidence in the most serious sheriff and jury cases by April 2026. Vulnerable adult witnesses are also able to pre-record their evidence ahead of trial if the court has granted an application for them to do so. Future phases will see more child and adult witnesses benefit from pre-recording their evidence.

The revised Implementation Plan for the Vulnerable Witnesses Act 2019, setting out the timetable for the next phase, will be published on Tuesday 23 April.

Witnesses are categorised as 'vulnerable' if they are likely to suffer significant risk of re-traumatisation as a result of giving evidence. 

The Vision for Justice in Scotland


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