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Report calls for online DA courts in Scotland

Specialist courts should be set up online to deal with domestic abuse cases, Scotland’s Virtual Trials National Project Board has recommended.

Such hearings could increase protection and reduce trauma for complaints and make it easier for witnesses to give evidence, the board argues.

Following a pilot scheme in Inverness and Aberdeen from which board members concluded an accused person can receive a fair trial, they recommend every sheriffdom has a dedicated virtual court for summary domestic abuse cases, those heard without a jury.

The report comes out against a background of about 33,000 summary trials outstanding in Scotland, more than double the 14,000 pre-pandemic. Sround a quarter of those 33,000 are domestic abuse cases.

Lord Justice General, Lord Carloway, said: “The pilot has clearly established the merit of this proposal.”

Victim Support Scotland’s chief executive Kate Wallace said: “People we support in domestic abuse situations have given feedback that this way of giving evidence is more appropriate, more trauma-informed, and also means they will not come face-to-face with the accused in court.”

But the project’s board recognises challenges to switching online include the need for more staff, local media reported.

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