Department of Justice is now the Department of Communities and Justice.  Find out more >

​Vulnerable and intimidated witnesses and the adversarial process in England and Wales

Author(s) Burton, Mandy, Roger Evans and Andrew Sanders
Title Vulnerable and intimidated witnesses and the adversarial process in England and Wales
Source The International Journal of Evidence & Proof; February 2007; Volume 11; p 1-23
Date 2007
Document type Journal article
CoverageEngland & Wales
Summary In this article the authors discuss whether legislation, policy and practices can effectively support vulnerable and intimidated witnesses within an adversarial system. The research that formed the basis of this article was conducted in 2000/01 before special measures were introduced, followed by a second collection phase in 2003/04. The data collected was obtained from surveys and interviews with stakeholders such as police, witness service providers and witnesses, and case monitoring. The special measures discussed include screens, video-recorded evidence, CCTV, use of communication aids and intermediaries. It was found that many witnesses were not provided with or even offered special measures that would be the most helpful. The police, at the frontline, often have trouble identifying vulnerable witnesses and may not be aware of their individual needs. A common issue for many vulnerable and intimidated witnesses was identified as safety in the courthouse, including waiting rooms, toilets, and entrances. The authors conclude that the special measures have been effective to some extent for many witnesses but suggest more needs to be done. Key recommendations are made in two areas: identifying vulnerable and intimated witnesses and secondly assessing vulnerability needs and views of witnesses for assistance. Other issues that need more discussion include the mandatory visual recording of initial interviews and the prevalence of functional illiteracy among all witnesses.
Keywords Criminal justice system; vulnerable witnesses; special measures
Topic Vulnerable witnesses