Queensland recently announced that a new pilot allowing the use of police body-worn camera footage in Court for domestic and family violence victim-survivors will be established under the Evidence and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2021.
Essentially, video statements taken by trained police officers will be admissible as a survivor’s evidence-in-chief in criminal proceedings for a domestic violence offence, including breaches of domestic violence orders.
The pilot stemmed from the recommendation in the ‘Not now, not ever: Putting an end to domestic & family violence in Queensland’ report that the Attorney-General, in consultation with the Chief Magistrate and Chief Judge, implement alternative procedures for victims to provide evidence in domestic and family violence matters.
The legislation also provides for a range of safeguards designed to limit trauma and protect the privacy of survivors who give evidence in this way. The pilot will run for a 12-month period simultaneously at the Ipswich and Southport Magistrates Courts, two of Queensland’s most prolific areas of domestic & family violence according to the Queensland Police Service. The experiences of survivors and the impacts on fair trial rights of the accused will be the key subjects of an independent evaluation of the pilot.
Shannon Fentiman, Attorney-General and Minister for Women and the Prevention of Domestic & Family Violence, said in a statement: “We know it can be extremely traumatic for victims of domestic & family violence when giving evidence in court… This can reduce trauma for survivors by avoiding the task of telling their story multiple times and can reduce the opportunity for offenders to intimidate victims”. Ms. Fentiman is hopeful that at the conclusion of the 12-month trial the ability to use police body-worn camera footage in Court will be introduced statewide.
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