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Court safety

General court safety

Courthouses may be protected by NSW Sheriff's officers. More information about sheriff protection in courthouses is available on the Office of the Sheriff website.

There are also other safeguards in place to help protect victims, from support and counselling, to remote-witness rooms for you to provide evidence without the need to confront the accused.

Special provisions for sexual assault victims

As a victim of sexual assault

  • You don't have to face the accused person in court. You can give evidence from a private room away from the courtroom, which is then transmitted to the courtroom via closed circuit television. Alternatively, you may wish to give evidence in the courtroom but, to ensure you don't have to see the accused, request that a screen or partition be used.

  • Your case may be heard in a closed court so members of the public cannot hear during the time that you are giving your evidence.

  • You may have a support person with you during the court proceedings. This person can be a member of the family, friend, counsellor or professional court support officer (provided they are not a witness in the case).

  • The court strictly limits what can be published about your case on the Internet and in the media. This means that your name or any information that identifies you must be kept confidential outside the court. This is called a 'non-publication order'.

  • Most accused people are legally represented. However, if the accused person is not legally represented they cannot directly ask you questions in court. The court may appoint an alternative person, if required.

  • You may not be asked improper questions, such as those which are humiliating, harassing, repetitive or insulting. In particular, improper questions should not be used by the lawyer representing the accused during a cross-examination.

  • Your evidence will be recorded so, if for any reason the trial needs to be re-heard, you may not need to give your evidence again.

See also:

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Specific Crimes > Sexual Assault

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Special provisions in court for children and sexual assault victims

Special provisions for 'vulnerable' witnesses

In a criminal court case, special provisions are made for vulnerable witnesses - children, and people with a cognitive impairment, who are victims of a personal assault offence.

Special provisions for vulnerable people are similar to those offered to sexual assault victims and may include

  • using closed circuit television rather than being in the courtroom itself

  • using a screen in court

  • having a support person whilst giving evidence

  • A vulnerable person can also ask the prosecutor to make a request to the judge or magistrate that the case, or at least your evidence, be given in a closed court, that is, where members of the public are excluded

  • having their pre-recorded police statements played as their evidence in chief

  • If the personal assault offence is a sexual assault, then the vulnerable victim's giving of evidence during the trial may also be recorded so that the evidence only needs to be given once.

It is best to speak to the prosecutor about these special provisions. The prosecutor will liaise with the magistrate or judge to determine whether any such measures can be utilised.

The prosecutor can also ask that certain people such as family, friends or counsellors remain in the court to give support. A decision to close the court and to allow support people to remain with you is decided by the magistrate or judge.

The law prohibits publication of the name and address, or any other information which might identify a vulnerable victim in a personal offence case .

A judge or magistrate can also prohibit the publication of any details about the case.

See also:

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Help & Support

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People with a disability

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Special provisions in court for children and sexual assault victims