Child Witnesses: Interviewing, Supporting, Protecting

By better supporting child witnesses we can minimise the risk of further trauma and improve the evidence informing our justice system. This event will explore how we can improve the support provided to child witnesses in Scotland.

The context

The March 2015 Evidence and Procedure Review Report by the Scottish Courts Service recognised that '[…] in spite of the significant progress that has been made in respect of legislation for child and vulnerable witnesses, there were clearly still instances where such witnesses were subject to processes in the Courts that were not best suited to their needs'. This led to an ongoing Child and Vulnerable Witnesses Project which published its Report on Joint Investigative Interviews in June 2017.

At the end of June 2017 the Scottish Government published a consultation on supporting child witnesses.

The event

The work of the Evidence and Procedure Review and Scottish Government is likely to lead to changes in existing legislation and guidance but we do not need to wait until this has been published to continue to improve the experiences of child witnesses. This can and should be done now. This event will bring together recent research and examples of practice from across the UK to consider how we can gather evidence to inform the pursuit of justice whilst also supporting the child and minimising the risk of further trauma.

 Key issues to be addressed

  • Hear from young people about what they want from the justice system
  • Consider the importance of Joint Investigative Interviews and how existing practice can be enhanced
  • Look at ground rules hearings and how they can help courts become a more accessible space for child witnesses
  • Explore the wider environment and support provided to child witnesses and ask how they can be improved 



09:15 Registration and Refreshments

Session 1: Changing the System to Meet Needs

In this opening session we will consider existing practice in supporting child witnesses in Scotland and reflect on how it could be improved. In doing so we will hear from young people themselves regarding what they want from the justice system.

09:55 Introductory Remarks From The Chair

Kate Connor, Kate Connor Consulting

10:00 The Child’s Voice: What We Want From The Justice System

Children 1st

10:15 The Evidence and Procedures Review: Findings and Recommendations

Kay McCorquodale, Chief Development and Innovation Officer, Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service

10:35 A Rights-based Approach To Children in the Justice System

Bruce Adamson, Commissioner for Children and Young People in Scotland

10:55 Questions and Discussions

11:10 Refreshments and Networking

Session 2: Gathering Evidence Whilst Protecting Wellbeing

There is positive practice ongoing across the world that Scotland can draw upon to inform its work with child witnesses. In this session we will look at the journey towards improved child witness support that has taken place in England and consider how we can improve the essential practice of conducting Joint Investigative Interviews (JIIs).

11:30 ‘Put A Kilt On It’: Evolving Best Practice With Young Witnesses in England and Wales

  • How does an intermediary contribute to ‘best evidence’?
  • This involves not only simplifying questions but developing aids to communication and adaptations to reduce stress 

Dame Joyce Plotnikoff, Consultant, Lexicon Limited and Co-founder of the The Advocate's Gateway

12:00 Evidence-based and Developmentally Appropriate Interviewing of Children

  • The importance of using evidence-based and developmentally appropriate child interviewing protocols
  • The NICHD Protocol
  • The situation in Scotland- a snapshot of some recent research findings

Dr Annabelle Nicol, Chartered Psychologist, Abertay University

12:30 Questions and Discussion

12:50 Lunch and Networking

Session 3: Creating a Child-centred Justice System

The new processes and systems we introduce will have minimal impact unless we can create an environment where the child feels safe and supported. In this final session we will consider what we can do in the lead-up to and during a case that will help the child throughout.

13:40 Creating a Child-Friendly Court

  • A brief outline of the role of the Registered Intermediary in helping to create child friendly courts in England and Wales.
  • Front line examples of adaptions to the court experience for children and how this facilitates communication of best evidence.

Dr Kimberly Collins, Senior Lecturer in Forensic Psychology, Teesside University and Registered Intermediary and Forensic Interviewer, Triangle

14:00Changes to Taking Evidence From Vulnerable Witnesses: Implications for Trial Practice in Scotland

  • Preparation for trial by Crown and Defence
  • Legal Aid implications
  • The use of Commissions

Douglas Thomson, Solicitor Advocate, Mcarthur Stanton Solicitors and a member of the Evidence and Procedure review, Child and Vulnerable Witnesses Project

14:20 Trauma-Free Justice: Learning from the Barnahus Approach

  • Exploring the principles of the Barnahus approach to justice and care for children
  • How the Barnahus approach addresses the issues that impact on Scotland’s child witnesses

Mary Glasgow, Acting Chief Executive, Children 1st

14:40 Questions and Discussions

15:00 Closing Remarks from the Chair

15:20 Close of Event

*Agenda subject to change


The Law Society, Atria One, 144 Morrison St, Edinburgh EH3 8EX | Map


Delegate Rates (excluding VAT)

  • Discounted rate: £145 (Voluntary / charitable organisations with an annual income of less than £1m)
  • Reduced rate: 1 place £245 | 2+ places £195 (Central government departments and agencies, local authorities, universities, colleges, NHS, police, professional associations and voluntary / charitable organisations with an annual income over £1m)
  • Full rate: 1 place £295 | 2+ places £245 (Commercial organisations e.g. plc, Ltd, LLP)
For more information please email or phone 0131 285 1635
31 October 2017


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