Witnessing better practises

Following the recommendations in Speaking Up for Justice, Part II of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 includes provisions that enable a court to appoint an intermediary to assist vulnerable or intimidated witnesses, including children, to give their best evidence in criminal proceedings.

As a first step, the intermediary project group taking forward the implementation of this measure is keen to hear from barristers who have had experience of questioning a client or a witness with a communication disability and children, with the assistance of a communications facilitator or intermediary, in a judicial or other similar formal setting.

You may be aware of locally agreed guidelines or protocols, or assisted in drawing up policy for the conduct of such work.

We would be very interested to see any guidelines or protocols or to hear about your experiences, including your views on the categories of witness most likely to benefit from such assistance.

The project group wishes to draw on existing good practice in the use of communication facilitators or intermediaries in judicial or other formal settings.

The information obtained from this collection of resources will be used when developing guidance and identifying the training needed, both for intermediaries working in criminal courts and also those whose questions are being conveyed through the intermediary.

Please contact me at the address below with information or your suggestions. I would be grateful to receive any responses by 15 March 2000.

Gillian Harrison, head of evidence and procedures section, Justice and Victims Unit, Home Office, 50 Queen Anne’s Gate, London, SW1H 9AT, fax 020 8273 2967, email gillian.harrison@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk