NSPCC Research Seminar on Young Witnesses’ Experiences of the Criminal Justice System 16th April 2018

IfJ committee members represented the voice of the intermediary at a research seminar last week. The seminar was aimed at discussing some of the issues which the NSPCC are currently looking at in relation to young witnesses in the criminal courts. 
 
You will be have seen and hopefully completed Joyce Plotnikoff and Richard Woolfson’s survey about young witnesses which forms part of the research project they are carrying out for the NSPCC. The aim is to revisit the ‘Measuring Up’ paper which was originally published in 2009 and to see how things have changed for children in the criminal courts.Measuring Up Revisited.
 
This involves a review of policies as well as obtaining views across the CJS: the judiciary, lawyers, CPS, the Witness Service, and of course RIs (and some other groups like the few remaining specialist young witness services). 
 
As part of this exercise the seminar was held on 16th April chaired by His Honour Judge Shaun Smith QC and was well attended by members of the bar, Judges,police trainers, the chair of the Criminal Bar Association, Lynda Gibbs  Programme Director at the Inns of Court College of Advocacy, NSPCC representatives and Chair, people from the CPS and the Moj, the Witness service and many other representatives from across the board.
 
Contributions were made by many participants and the 3 intermediaries in the room were able to offer a ‘from the coal face’ perspective which was useful. There were lively discussions about the live link, delay, questioning, safeguarding and training for advocates and the judiciary.
 
The discussion was open and candid and we got the opportunity to mention many issues which children in the criminal courts still face as well as flying the flag for the usual intermediary issues which occupy our thoughts. 
 
We look forward to another great report from Joyce and Richard which will sincerely hope will hold the CJS to account in its dealings with the children who pass through the system.