New research into the role of Registered Intermediaries in court cases involving child witnesses

Dr Sarah Krahenbuhl (Senior Lecturer in Psychology & Course Leader – BSc Forensic Psychology, Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) has had a new study accepted for publication in the journal Psychology, Crime and Law. Sarah blogs about her new study below:

The new paper, titled ‘Mock jurors’ perceptions of a child witness: The impact of the presence and/or intervention of a Registered Intermediary during cross-examination’, featured students from Psychology and Law departments who took the parts of barristers, court clerk, child witness, and Registered Intermediary as part of a mock trial. The students, who volunteered their time for the time, are named in the acknowledgements for the publication and were given a useful insight into the research process and experience of research in Forensic Psychology. The University’s mock court room was used for the study and the cross-examination of the child victim was video recorded and shown to mock juror participants.

The findings of the study showed no effect of the presence or intervention of the Registered Intermediary on mock juror perceptions, which supports their neutral role in court proceedings. However, rather concerning was the way in which one factor, the likelihood of a guilty verdict, was affected by which professional gave an intervention – if the Registered Intermediary was present and included an intervention (to support communication with the child witness) then the likelihood of a guilty verdict was lower than if the Registered Intermediary was absent and the judge gave the same intervention – the converse was found when no interventions were included. This raises the question as to mock juror perceptions of what is an appropriate role for professionals to take – but that this has an impact on their guilty verdicts is highly concerning.

This new study has recently been accepted for publication in the journal Psychology, Crime and Law, and the full text of the article can now be accessed via the journal’s website:

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