Browsing Psychology by Subjects
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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.
Police officers’ and Registered Intermediaries’ use of drawing during investigative interviews with vulnerable witnessesAttempts to enhance episodic retrieval focus largely on verbal strategies which do not always address the limited or impaired free recall ability of vulnerable witnesses. Asking a witness to draw while recalling episodic information has long been deemed an effective method of improving communication and cognitive performance. Thus far, research has revealed these effects within laboratory settings but with scarce attention paid to real-life interview practice. In this paper, we explore police officers’ and Registered Intermediaries’ use of drawing during investigative interviews with vulnerable witnesses. A sample of specialist practitioners (n=85), comprising of vulnerable witness interviewing police officers (n=50) and Registered Intermediaries (n=35) completed a self-report questionnaire. As expected, frequent use of drawing was reported by both practitioner groups, and there was a positive correlation between reported use and perceived effectiveness. There were similarities between groups in reported techniques employed when using drawing, but some differences were apparent and these were attributed to the differing functions in police and Registered Intermediary roles. Overall, a consensus between empirical research and practice is evident, but these findings warrant further exploration in order to establish whether such practice is wide-spread.
‘Section 28’ and the pre-recording of cross-examination: What can advocates expect in 2018?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.
Stakeholders’ perceptions of the benefit of introducing an Australian Intermediary System for vulnerable witnessesVulnerable witnesses (e.g. children and adults with communication impairment) face many barriers to testifying and achieving justice when participating in the criminal justice system. To date, reforms have been implemented in Australia to address these, yet the barriers remain. Several other countries have implemented an intermediary scheme, whereby an independent third party assists vulnerable witnesses to understand the questions and processes encountered during interviews and trials, and helps witnesses to be understood. This study provides a qualitative analysis of stakeholders’ (N¼25 professionals) perceptions regarding the potential benefits of implementing an intermediary scheme in Australia. While all participants demonstrated an open-minded attitude to new reform in this area, their perspectives did not support the introduction of an intermediary scheme at this time. Stakeholders highlighted the need for improved use and effectiveness of current measures, and expressed concern about adding further complication to the system.