• Intermediaries, vulnerable people and the quality of evidence: An international comparison of three versions of the English intermediary model

      Cooper, Penny; Mattison, Michelle L. A.; Birkbeck University of London; University of Chester (2017-09-29)
      Since 2004, witness intermediaries have been utilised across the justice system in England and Wales. Two witness intermediary schemes based on the English model have also been introduced in Northern Ireland (2013), and more recently, in New South Wales, Australia (2016). The purpose of the intermediary in these jurisdictions is to facilitate the questioning of vulnerable witnesses, but there are clear differences in the application of the role. This paper presents the first comparative review of the three related intermediary models, and highlights the pressing need for further research into the efficacy and development of the role in practice.
    • No evidence against Sketch Reinstatement of Context, Verbal Labels or the use of Registered Intermediaries for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Response to Henry et al. (2017)

      Dando, Coral J.; Ormerod, Thomas C.; Cooper, Penny; Marchant, Ruth; Mattison, Michelle L. A.; Milne, Rebecca; Bull, Ray; University of Westminster; University of Sussex; City, University of London; Triangle Services; University of Chester; University of Portsmouth; University of Derby (Springer Verlag, 2018-02-13)
      Recently, Henry et al. (2017) found no evidence for the use of Verbal labels, Sketch Reinstatement of Context and Registered Intermediaries by forensic practitioners when interviewing children with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. We consider their claims, noting the limited ecological validity of the experimental paradigm, the impacts of repeated interviewing where retrieval support is not provided at first retrieval, question the interviewer/intermediary training and their population relevant experience, and comment on the suppression of population variances. We submit that rejecting these techniques on the basis of this study is completely unwarranted and potentially damaging, particularly if used in legal proceedings to undermine the value of testimony from children with ASD, who continually struggle to gain access to justice.
    • One step forward and two steps back? The ‘20 Principles’ for questioning vulnerable witnesses and the lack of an evidence-based approach.

      Cooper, Penny; Dando, Coral J.; Ormerod, Thomas C.; Mattison, Michelle L. A.; Marchant, Ruth; Milne, Rebecca; Bull, Ray; Birkbeck University of London; University of Westminster; University of Sussex; University of Chester, Triangle, University of Portsmouth, University of Derby (SAGE Publications, 2018-08-19)
      It is a widely held belief that questioning vulnerable witnesses is a specialist skill. In England and Wales vulnerable witness advocacy training built around ‘20 Principles’ has been developed and is being delivered. The 20 Principles do not cite a tested theoretical framework(s) or empirical evidence in support. This paper considers whether the 20 Principles are underpinned by research evidence. It is submitted that advocacy training and the approach to questioning witnesses in the courtroom should take into account the already available research evidence. The authors make recommendations for revision of the training and for a wider review of the approach taken to the handling of witness evidence.
    • ‘Section 28’ and the pre-recording of cross-examination: What can advocates expect in 2018?

      Cooper, Penny; Mattison, Michelle L. A.; City, University of London; University of Chester (Lexisnexis Butterworths, 2018-01-05)
      In 2018, so long as the recently identified technological issues are remedied (rumoured to be about storage capacity for the recordings), pre-recorded cross-examination will be rolled out across Crown Courts in England and Wales. The process evaluation report (MoJ, 2016) for the pilot of section 28 Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 (YJCEA 1999) was encouraging as well as realistic; it acknowledged that findings might not be replicated on roll-out because courts in the study might not being representative of courts in general. The authors believe that the success of the scheme substantially rests in the hands of judges and practitioners. Here we briefly summarise the background to the roll-out, highlight some important aspects of the new guidance in the Criminal Practice Directions (CPD), illustrate practice with real case studies, and discuss the implications for professional development.