IfJ Conference: '10 Years on and still going strong!!' and AGM

IfJ training: Seminar and Conferences

Event details


27 Jun 2024


27th June


Zoom Online
United Kingdom

Booking info

Max participants: 150
Course facilitator(s) bio:

Professor Jonathan Doak

Jonathan Doak is Professor of Criminal Justice and Associate Dean for Research in Nottingham Law School, Nottingham Trent University . Jonathan's main research interests lie in the broad fields of criminal evidence, advocacy and sentencing with a particular focus the protection and participation of vulnerable parties throughout the legal process. Jonathan’s research has shaped policy developments across and has influenced various government and law reform bodies in the UK, Ireland and Australia.

Professor Keith Rix

Keith Rix is Visiting Professor of Medical Jurisprudence at the University of Chester, a retired forensic psychiatrist and an editor of Rix's Expert Psychiatric Evidence.

Catherine O’Neil

Catherine O’Neill is a Registered Intermediary , a Court Approved Intermediary, a Speech and Language Therapist and an Arts Psychological Therapist with a specialist interest in  Trauma (EMDR). As a therapist she has worked with adults and children with Communication Needs and Mental Health issues, in a variety of settings including palliative care, acute mental health wards and day hospitals, schools and clinics. 

She is a visiting lecturer on the Wellbeing Practitioner course at the University of East London. 

She has written for Jessica Kingsley publishers and Childsplay International on subjects related to mental health. She is also involved in the design of equipment for special needs and toys and equipment for the general retail market, where she combines her child development knowledge with her design skills.

In 2014 Catherine , with four other founder members, set up Intermediaries for Justice , now a charity, due to a firm belief in giving a voice to voiceless people. She is currently Chair of IfJ and she has a firm belief in access to justice for all.

Kate Crawford-Blake

I am a speech and language therapist working in the area of neurodevelopmental conditions at Evolve Psychology. I was a registered intermediary for 7 years between 2014 and 2021 working with children and young people in the North East of England. During my time as an RI I had a great experience being a trustee for IFJ, developing the website being the main project I worked on. I became a family magistrate in 2021 and sit on the North and West Yorkshire bench. I do this as voluntary work alongside being the team lead for service development at Evolve Psychology

Course requirements: IfJ Member (any type)


  • 9:30 Registration
  • 9:45-10:45 Welcome, AGM and election of officers

- 10:45-11:00 break -

  • 11:00-11:15 Opening Celebratory Talk Catherine O'Neil: IfJ and Honorary Members/ External Advisors
  • 11:15-12:00 Kate Crawford-Blake – ‘Intermediaries in the family court - an insider's perspective’ 

I look forward to sharing with you the journey I took from intermediary to magistrate in the family court and highlighting what still needs to be done to further increase the profile of intermediaries in these courts. 

- 12:00-12:15 break - 

  • 12:15-12:30 Title to be confiemd: Professor Lucy Henry and Dr Tina Pereira 
  • 12:30-13:15 Professor Keith Rix - 'Fitness to plead and stand trial or effective participation

Traces fitness to plead and stand trial back to the Esther Dyson infanticide case of 1830 and forwards through the Pritchard bestiality case to the recent influence of human rights law. Illustrated by a successful appeal against conviction on the basis of unfitness to plead and stand trial.

- 13:15-14:00 lunch (networking rooms option for those who wish -

  • 14:00-14:15 Mary Prior (recorded)
  • 14:15-15:00 Catherine O’Neil- ‘People, not just Books . An investigation into the Knowledge and experience of Trauma Informed Practice in the Justice System.’ 

This predominantly qualitative phenomenological study, with some descriptive quantitative data, was conducted in two stages: first, a survey of 155 Police Officers, Solicitors/Barristers, and Intermediaries was designed to capture participants' perceptions of T.I.P in the JS. Findings from the survey then informed the second stage of semi-structured interviews, analysed narratively, to thoroughly capture the lived experiences of the professionals. Interviews with eighteen participants, representative of each participant group, were conducted. Additionally, data from five Retired Judges/Magistrates were included at this stage.

​​​​​​​- 15:00-15:15 break -

  • 15:15-16:15 How do we meet our needs for clinical supervision, reflective practice and emotional suport? Rachel Jones-Wild (Psycholotherapist), then Rachel Cohen (Intermediary), followed by IfJ questionnaire results and break our room discussions

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​- 16:15-16:30 break -

  • 16:30-17:15 Professor Jonathan Doak, (Nottingham Law School, Nottingham Trent University)-Mapping the Changing Face of Cross-Examination: The Role of Intermediaries.’

This paper discusses the findings of a three year research project, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, which sought to map the precise nature and extent to which new approaches towards cross-examination in criminal courts are producing change, to identify aspects of good and bad practice, and develop evidence-based solutions that enhance the capacity of vulnerable people to participate within the trial.  Using a mixed methods approach comprising trial observations, semi-structured interviews with judges, counsel and intermediaries, and forensic linguistic analysis,  findings indicate a general acceptance that approaches to cross-examination have changed significantly and most changes have been for the better. In very general terms, interviewees considered that the cross-examination experience was now much more positive for many vulnerable witnesses and there had been considerable movement away from the use of ‘coercive’ questioning techniques. However, interview data revealed that certain types of vulnerable witnesses were more advantaged than others, suggesting the existence of a perceived hierarchy between ‘more deserving’ non-defendant witnesses and ‘less deserving’ defendants.

Intermediaries appeared relatively rarely in the trials observed (n=6 out of 40), all bar one to assist child or vulnerable adult complainants in sexual cases. When observed, they made significant interventions to assist communication. Interviewees in England and Wales drew attention to the limited use made of intermediaries for vulnerable defendants both in terms of the number of defendants who can access the support and in terms of the extent of the support that the courts will accept. When intermediaries are appointed for vulnerable defendants, it is reportedly rare for them to be appointed to support defendants throughout the whole trial, although in the one observed trial where the defendant was granted an intermediary, the intermediary was present to provide support for the duration of the trial.  

There was a general consensus amongst judges and advocates that intermediaries add value in facilitating communication with the most vulnerable witnesses – in particular young children or where witnesses have specific communication difficulties – but there was a strong feeling in England and Wales where their use is more embedded that they are over-used in other cases. Intermediaries in England and Wales and Northern Ireland reported feeling much more accepted in the courts now than they had been in the past and they are increasingly accepted in Ireland. But a number considered that there is a lack of appreciation amongst some legal professionals as to the level of specialist skill required to facilitate good communication and simplistic assumptions are made about witnesses’ or defendants’ communication abilities. 

Although there was a consensus that intermediaries carry out their duties impartially, there were a small number of concerns about the boundaries of their role when it comes to intervening in trials and on the extent to which they may influence the content of questions.