​Stakeholders’ perceptions of the benefit of introducing an Australian intermediary system for vulnerable witnesses

Author(s) Powell, Martine B., Phoebe Bowden, and Michelle Mattison
Title Stakeholders' perceptions of the benefit of introducing an Australian intermediary system for vulnerable witnesses
Source Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology, December 2015, Vol. 48, No. 4, pp. 498-512
Date 2015
Document type Journal article
CoverageAustralia
Summary The aim of this study was to examine whether a witness intermediary scheme should be introduced in Australia. Participants in the study were 25 Australian professionals with experience working with vulnerable persons, including prosecutors, psychologists, police, and judicial officers. Participants felt that current measures designed to assist vulnerable witnesses should work effectively before a new expensive scheme is introduced and discussed the current gap between best-practice questioning and the actual questions used by investigative and evidential interviewers. Poor questioning was seen to result from inadequate training and the accepted practice of using leading, interrogative and complex questions in trials. Concerns were also raised specifically about intermediaries and possible conflicts between supporting the witness and acting as an expert witness, and the training and competency of intermediaries. Another concern was the potential detrimental effect associated with introducing another party to the proceedings, particularly in the possibility of making the witness anxious and potential delays to proceedings.
Keywords Vulnerable witnesses; intermediaries; evidence; special measures
Topic Vulnerable witnesses