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Effective and Appropriate Communication with Children in Legal Proceedings According to Lawyers and Intermediaries

NCJ Number
Child Abuse Review Volume: 20 Issue: 6 Dated: November-December 2011 Pages: 407-420
Sarah Krahenbuhl
Date Published
December 2011
14 pages
This article examines investigative interviews and cross-examinations of children.
Following the Government's commitment to improve protection for child witnesses in the Criminal Justice Act 1991, interviewing protocols have been developed to provide guidance on effective interviewing. Additionally, the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 intermediary special measure was provided in order to facilitate communication between child witnesses and 'interviewers' during the entire legal process. This article presents findings form a study that aimed to establish whether, over a decade later, there is accordance between intermediaries and lawyers about perceptions of appropriate communication in the context of investigative interviews and cross-examination of children. Participants (19 intermediaries and 12 lawyers) examined transcripts of a mock investigative interview and cross-examination of a child and noted which, if any, questions or phrases they perceived to be inappropriate, to state what was inappropriate and to suggest how these could be amended. Qualitative analysis showed that both groups demonstrated awareness of the emotional and developmental needs of the child but there was a lack of understanding of some aspects of the interviewing guidance, particularly in respect to the definition of leading questions, the use of recommended question formats and procedural aspects. (Published Abstract)