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Intermediaries, vulnerable people and the quality of evidence: An international comparison of three versions of the English intermediary modelSince 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.
One step forward and two steps back? The ‘20 Principles’ for questioning vulnerable witnesses and the lack of an evidence-based approach.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 The 20 Principles do not cite a tested theoretical framework(s) or empirical evidence in support.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.