The Impact of Registered Intermediary Presence on Adults’ Perceptions of Child Witnesses: Evidence from a Mock Cross Examination

Kimberly Collins*, Natalie Harker, Georgios A. Antonopoulos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Registered intermediaries are communication specialists appointed to facilitate the communication of vulnerable witnesses participating in the criminal justice system in England and Wales. Intermediaries assess the vulnerable individual’s communication and provide recommendations to practitioners for how to obtain the individual’s ‘best evidence’ during police interviews and in court. The scheme was implemented nationally in 2008, but has not been subject to rigorous research. The aim of the current article is to provide an account on adults’ perceptions of the vulnerable individual when an intermediary assists their communication in court. In the present study 100 participants viewed a mock cross examination of a child witness either with or without an intermediary present. Participants rated the child’s behaviour and communication, and the quality of the cross examination, across a number of different variables. The age of the child was also manipulated with participants viewing a cross examination of a four or a 13 year old child. The results showed the children’s behaviour and the quality of the cross-examination were more highly rated when the intermediary was involved during cross-examination. The older child’s cross-examination was rated as more developmentally appropriate, however no other age differences or interactions emerged. The findings have positive implications for jury perceptions of children’s testimony when they are assisted by an intermediary in court, regardless of the age of the child witness. The success of the intermediary scheme in England and Wales may encourage the implementation of intermediaries internationally
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-225
Number of pages15
JournalEuropean Journal on Criminal Policy and Research
Volume23
Issue number2
Early online date26 May 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017
Externally publishedYes

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