Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999

Reference: UK/1999/C/23

The Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 deals with a person's competence in giving evidence in the criminal courts and contains additional restrictions on the use of certain types of evidence.

The legislation is relevant for criminal proceedings in IT-related matters.

Criminal evidence

The Act

  • provides for the referral of offenders under 18 to youth offender panels;
  • makes provision in connection with the giving of evidence or information for the purposes of criminal proceedings;
  • makes pre-consolidation amendments relating to youth justice; and for connected purposes.

The Act deals with procedures in presenting criminal evidence, sitting alongside the Civil Evidence Act 1995 that deals with civil evidence.

The Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 is in two principal parts.

  • Part I provides for further reform to the youth justice system in England and Wales by creating a new system of referral to Youth Offender Panels.
  • Part II is divided into the following six main Chapters:

- Chapter 1 contains a range of special measures designed to help young, disabled, vulnerable or intimidated witnesses to give evidence in criminal proceedings. These include measures to reduce the stress of giving evidence at trial such as informal dress, screens, live link CCTV and the use of pre - recorded interviews. In particular, a court may eject all but one member of the press (s.25).

- Chapter 2 contains restrictions on the freedom of defendants to cross-examine their alleged victims

- Chapter 3 contains restrictions on what evidence about an alleged victim's sexual behaviour can be considered relevant in a trial for a sexual offence.

- Chapter 4 contains restrictions on publishing information that might reveal the identity of a witness

- Chapter 5 contains a change to the definition of who is competent to give evidence.

- Chapter 6 contains additional restrictions on the use of certain types of evidence.