Giving the Vulnerable a Voice in the Criminal Justice System: The Use of Intermediaries With Individuals With Intellectual Disability

Ilana Hepner*, Mary N. Woodward, Jeanette Stewart

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

People with intellectual disability (ID) are significantly over-represented at all levels of the criminal justice system. Disability in intellectual or adaptive functioning can disadvantage their participation in legal proceedings, particularly when faced with complex questioning strategies during investigative interviews and a trial. Currently available supports, such as the provision of a support person, are welcome, but there is a need for more active measures. We draw attention to the Witness Intermediary Scheme in England and Wales, whereby Registered Intermediaries serve to ensure that communication with vulnerable witnesses is as “complete, accurate and coherent as possible.” After briefly outlining this scheme, we explore the currently available supports for individuals with ID involved in the Australian criminal justice system. We then argue that the implementation of such a scheme within Australian jurisdictions is necessary to facilitate vulnerable witnesses' access to justice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)453-464
Number of pages12
JournalPsychiatry, Psychology and Law
Volume22
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • access to justice
  • criminal justice system
  • intellectual disability
  • registered intermediary
  • vulnerable witness

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