RAPE and sexual violence victims whose cases are heard at Bolton Crown Court are now to have their cross-examination videoed in advance of trials.

Until now victims have had to endure the trauma of giving evidence in court during a trial.

But in a new move, victims and witnesses of crimes, such as rape and modern slavery, can now have their cross-examination videoed at an earlier time and then played to a jury.

The measure has already been successfully tried at several courts throughout England and is now being introduced in Bolton.

It is argued that, as well as being less traumatic for victims, the recordings, which take place as soon after the offence as possible, mean that memories are fresher than waiting for a trial to take place, which can often be months or years later.

Since August 2020 a similar scheme, for vulnerable victims such as children or people with limited mental capacity, has been in place, meaning that more than 2,500 witnesses across the country have been spared the ordeal of being cross-examined in front of a jury.

Victoria Atkins MP, minister for tackling violence against women and girls, welcomed the new move to introduce videoed cross examination for rape victims at Bolton Crown Court and eight other courts in the North West.

She said: "We are overhauling the justice system’s response to rape and this measure is key — minimising the stress and trauma faced by victims so they can provide the best possible evidence.

"It adds to the many other steps we are taking, such as recruiting more independent sexual violence advisors, delivering a new Victims’ Bill and improving collaboration between police and prosecutors.

"While there is still much more to do, we are starting to see the results of these efforts with rape convictions increasing by 15 percent over the last quarter, and by more than a quarter since before the pandemic."

A decision to pre-record evidence will be made by the judge on a case-by-case basis in order to maintain a defendant's right to a fair trial.