• Impact in law but what about practice? Intermediaries and how they aid vulnerable people to access the Criminal Justice System.

      Mattison, Michelle L. A.; Owen, Rebecca S. (University of Chester, 2016)
      Vulnerable people are more likely to encounter the justice system but less likely to achieve justice. This is due in part to the psychological and developmental challenges they face but also due to lack of recognition and appropriate adaptation in professional practice. Legislation has recognised the need for change by introducing special measures for vulnerable victims and witnesses, particularly appointment of an intermediary and further guidance for practitioners has developed in turn. To date, little is known of the practical application of such changes and whether the additional needs of the vulnerable are now adequately addressed within the justice system. To provide more insight, 20 participants engaged in a survey based study. Participants were questioned in relation to their previous experience of working with vulnerable people, their understanding of such additional needs, their use of special measures and their experience of The Advocate’s Gateway website (TAG). All respondents, primarily intermediaries were aware of how to identify vulnerabilities and the associated challenges faced in accessing the justice system. Respondents’ confidence within role increased with the number of vulnerable people worked with and communication aids were utilised appropriately but with further guidance needed. All respondents utilised TAG and found its resources invaluable. These findings build on the widespread knowledge surrounding intermediaries and vulnerable people in the justice system. However, a wider sample to include legal professionals is called for in future studies to better understand the current landscape for vulnerable people attempting to access the justice system.