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 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.
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
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
14:00 Changes 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
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