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Courtroom technology      

Courtroom technology is used to assist victims of sexual assault to provide evidence. Select a link below for more information about a courtroom technology and support services.

There are special provisions for victims of sexual assault in courts. These include using closed circuit television rather than being in the courtroom itself, using a screen in court, having a support person with you while you give your evidence, having the court closed to the public during your evidence, and having your evidence recorded so that you only have to give evidence and be cross-examined once. It is best to speak to the prosecutor about these provisions.

Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) and Remote Witness Video Facilities

If you are a victim of a sexual assault or classified as a vulnerable person, you are able to use the CCTV facilities in the remote witness room at the courthouse or at another location. Take a look at a CCTV room in our Courtroom tour section.

CCTV links you with the courtroom using cameras and TV screens. This means you don't have to go into the courtroom to give your evidence. You will be able to see, hear and speak to the Judge or Magistrate, the prosecutor or defence lawyer. Everyone in the courtroom will be able to see and hear you. Only the Judge or Magistrate, prosecutor or defence lawyer can talk to you. Other witnesses may also be able to use CCTV. If you have concerns about giving your evidence in court and you feel you need to use these facilities, ask the prosecutor if you are able to use CCTV.

You can have a support person if you give evidence in court, or if you are using the CCTV facilities. You can choose where this person sits when you give evidence. They can sit near you or sit somewhere that you can see them.

In the remote witness room

If you are using CCTV, you will be in a room separate from the courtroom. This room is considered to be pat of the court room.

There will be a court officer with you and your support person if you have one. You will see the Magistrate or Judge, the prosecutor and the defence lawyer.

The Magistrate or Judge might ask you if you can see and hear them. Sometimes there can be problems with the equipment. If you can't see the Magistrate's or Judge's face on the screen, just say so. If you can't hear what is being said clearly, let the Judge know.

You should not see the accused person. If you can see the accused, it is a mistake and you or your support person, if you have one, should let the court officer know. The accused will be moved to where you can't see him or her.

Support persons attending remote witness room

The remote witness room is part of the court. For the safety of witnesses their location is confidential. Support people and others in the remote witness room will be visible to the judicial officer at all times, even if the video and audio is shut down temporarily. A child witness may have one or more support persons with them while they give evidence. Adult complainants of sexual assault offences may have one support person with them while giving evidence via closed circuit television. This should be cleared with the judicial officer.

Infra-red Assistive Hearing System      

If you have a hearing aid or you are hearing impaired then you or your support person can order a hearing amplification system for your visit to court.

The NSW Department of Justice has 360 courtrooms and uses portable infra-red systems to assist people who are hard of hearing.

These are similar to hearing loops but ensure the information stays within the courtroom.

The infra-red system can assist people who appear in court including witnesses, jurors, legal professionals, relatives and friends.

Pre-recorded interview as evidence-in-chief

If you were under 16 years of age when you were first interviewed by the police and your interview was recorded on audio or video tape, your evidence-in-chief will usually be your taped interview. You will still be cross-examined by the defence lawyer.

Using recorded evidence-in-chief and cross-examination in re-trials

If you are a victim of sexual assault and there is an aborted trial, a hung jury or a re-trial, you may not have to give evidence again. The best copy of your evidence-in-chief and cross-examination can be used in any following trials. The best copy of your evidence may be the transcript, an audio recording, or a video recording.

Procedures and security

The Sheriff's Officer should determine who will be in the remote witness room and their role, and alert the court. The Sheriff or court officer should sit so that they will be visible to the court, but pose no distraction to the witness. Any interpreter with the witness will sit next to the witness so as to have the prominent microphone position, and also be visible to the court. Auslan interpreters will sit facing the witness but also need to be in view of the court.  The support person can assist the witness with any difficulty in giving evidence associated with a disability, or for the purpose of providing a child witness with other support.

The support person should quietly inform the sheriff or court officer of any problems such as difficulties with hearing what is being asked or if the witness is having any difficulties requiring a break (e.g. child witness needing to go to the toilet, witness is distressed, witness is having breathing difficulties, or witness is indicating ill health during an adjournment).

In the event of an interruption in transmission from the courtroom or failure of the equipment, the support person should on no account speak to the witness about the case or their evidence during any interruption in the proceedings although the support person is permitted to comfort the witness during the interruption.

For a child witness the support person can be seated near the child and within the child's sight. The support person can sit next to a child witness.

You can ask that your address not be given in open court. If you have concerns, tell the prosecutor before the case begins.