Rape victims will be spared the trauma of giving evidence in court after the introduction of pre-recorded evidence at Norfolk courts.

New measures at Norwich and King's Lynn crown courts allow vulnerable victims and witnesses of sexual crimes and modern slavery to have their cross-examination video-recorded and played later during trial.

The recording takes place as close to the time of the offence as possible, while memories remain fresh, and helps victims avoid the stress of giving evidence in a live trial.

The national roll out of the tool, which was already operating at 26 crown courts, means it is now operating in courts across Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire.

Justice secretary Brandon Lewis said it would spare victims the “additional trauma of testifying under the full glare of a courtroom”.

Any decision to pre-record evidence is made by a judge on a case-by-case basis.

Norfolk chief constable Paul Sanford has said more needed to be done to increase rape and sexual offence conviction rates and provide better support to victims.

Just under half of all women who reported rapes in Norfolk in 2020 later withdrew from the process while a quarter of cases fell through because of evidential difficulties.