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Written witness statements

Admissibility of written statements

1. Written statements are admissible in evidence if a copy has been served under the provision of s9 CJA 1967 on the other parties (together with any other document referred to in it), and there is no objection within seven days to it being tendered in evidence. 1 If the prosecution intends to use written statements under these provisions, it must therefore be served on the defence at least seven days before the relevant hearing. In practice, if the prosecution receive an objection from the defence outside the seven day time limit, it is strongly advised that the witness is called, since the court always has discretion to require the witness to be called, and is likely to do so in such circumstances.

2. The statement must be signed by the witness and must contain a declaration such as the one printed on the statement form:

"This statement is true to the best of my knowledge and belief and I make it knowing that, if it is tendered in evidence, I shall be liable to prosecution if I have wilfully stated in it anything which I know to be false or do not believe to be true."

3. It must give the age of a witness under 18 2. The statement must be read to a witness who cannot read, and the person who reads must sign a declaration that it was read to the witness. Statements taken on HSE forms comply with these requirements.

4. To make a written statement that is tendered in evidence under these provisions, which is known to be false, is a criminal offence. 4

Statements taken abroad

5. Statements taken in Scotland and Northern Ireland can be admitted as evidence in committals and other criminal proceedings under section 9, CJA 1967, and section 68 and CPIA 1996 Sch 2(1)(d) on the same terms as statements made in England and Wales. 5 Statements taken outside the United Kingdom may be tendered in evidence at committal proceedings.

Use of written statements and depositions at trial

6. Under Schedule 2 of the CPIA 1996, statements and depositions which have been admitted at committal will become automatically admissible at trial, except that the court will have a discretion to exclude the evidence and a defendant may object to its admission, although the court of trial is given a power to order that the objection be of no effect if it is in the interests of justice so to order. 6


Footnotes

  1. CJA 1967, s.9 for summary and Crown Court trials; MCA 1980.
  2. CJA1967 s.9(3), as amended by CPIA 1996 s.69.
  1. 4. CJA 1967, s.89 (in relation to statements tendered under s.9), MCA 1980, s.106 (in relation to statements tendered under s.5B): liable on conviction to a maximum two years' imprisonment or a fine or both.
  2. CJA 1972, s.46(1).
  3. CPIA 1996, Sch. 2 para 1.(4).
Updated 2009-10-08