Alleged rape victims in England and Wales may not have to be cross-examined in front of the accused, under plans by the justice secretary.
Liz Truss is to set out reforms which would allow sex abuse victims to pre-record their testimony before a trial.
Speaking to The Sunday Times, the lord chancellor said schemes in three cities showed pre-recorded interviews led to a higher level of “early guilty pleas”.
Mrs Truss said the plans could come into force as early as September.
Give victims ‘confidence’
In The Sunday Times interview, she said: “It reduces the level of trauma for the victim.
“I want to see that being the standard offer in those cases and that will give more victims confidence to come forward.”
The plans come after Plaid Cymru MP Liz Saville launched a private members bill to stop alleged rape victims being quizzed about their sexual history or appearance.
Mrs Truss said the pre-recorded interviews will provide “much clearer ground rules” to counsel.
She added; “At the moment prior sexual history can only be asked about in exceptional circumstances, but sometimes questions can be asked that verge on that territory.
“If a question is asked that is inadmissable, that can be cut out of the tape by the judge.”
The family of a woman who took her own life before her attacker stood trial welcomed the plan.
Ceri Lindon took an overdose days after being kidnapped and raped by fake taxi driver Masood Mansouri in Chester in August 2014.
Speaking to The Sunday Times, the 20-year-old’s mother Eleri said: “Ceri was told there was a possibility she would have to give evidence and I’m sure these reforms would have helped her a great deal.”
But some have argued this could affect people who are falsely accused of rape.
James Conte, founder of accused.me.uk said: “If you are a wholly innocent victim of someone trying to frame you, you will not welcome these changes because they will increase the chances that you will be wrongfully convicted.”
Zoe Gascoyne, chairwoman of the Criminal Law Solicitors Association, told the newspaper that taped interviews before a trial would not take into account real-time developments, and said: “This may be a step too far.”
Mrs Truss is due to outline the planned changes to MPs on Monday.