Dr Sarah Krähenbühl (Lecturer in Forensic Psychology & Course Leader for Staffordshire’s BSc in Forensic Psychology) reports on a recent conference held at Staffordshire University for researchers, policy makers and professionals with interests in the use of vulnerable individuals as witnesses:
On March 12th 2016 a national conference took place at Staffordshire University called ‘Intermediaries for Justice’. Registered Intermediaries (RI) are professionals who facilitate communication with vulnerable witnesses (and now also with vulnerable suspects) who are participating in legal proceedings. An RI will have specialist expertise in an area of communication, will conduct an assessment with a vulnerable person, and then liaise with all other professionals involved in the legal proceedings (e.g. Police Officers, Barristers, Judge) to ensure that appropriate communication takes place. At this conference, in addition to Registered Intermediaries, there were a range of delegates including Police, Social Workers, charitable organisation representatives (e.g. Citizens Advice Bureau), academics and students from Staffordshire University. The speakers included Hon Ms Justice Russell, HHJ Sally Cahill QC, Dr. Sarah Krähenbühl, Gill Darvill, Dame Joyce Plotnikoff and Dr Richard Woolfson.
Dr Sarah Krähenbühl (of Staffordshire University) and Gill Darvill (Registered Intermediary) gave a presentation on the UK findings of a Europe-wide research project conducted for the Fundamental Rights Agency (Vienna) regarding children’s experiences in the Criminal Justice System.
In addition there were a series of 6 discussion groups facilitated by professionals covering a range of topics related to legal proceedings such as witness interview training, pre-trial recorded cross-examination, pre-trial preparation, individuals with autism or mental health vulnerabilities, and fitness to plead issues.
The conference was a huge success and was greatly oversubscribed. You can get further information about the work of Registered Intermediaries from the ‘Advocates Gateway’ website http://www.theadvocatesgateway.org/intermediaries – and of course, look out for their next conference in 2017!
The School of Psychology, Sport and Exercise at Staffordshire University is a leading School in the UK for Psychology degrees and is situated in the heart of England. We produce internationally recognized research which is driving knowledge in this area forward and we work with a variety of healthcare providers, charities, international sports teams and private sector organisations.