Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Vulnerable patients going to court: a psychiatrist's guide to special measures

  • Penny Cooper (a1) (a2) and Janet Grace (a3) (a4)
Summary

There have been significant changes to how vulnerable people are treated in the court system, including the introduction of special measures to support people both as witness and as accused. This paper summarises the use of special measures and their application to people with mental health diagnoses or cognitive impairment.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Vulnerable patients going to court: a psychiatrist's guide to special measures
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Vulnerable patients going to court: a psychiatrist's guide to special measures
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Vulnerable patients going to court: a psychiatrist's guide to special measures
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
This is an open-access article published by the Royal College of Psychiatrists and distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Corresponding author
Correspondence to Janet Grace (janet.grace@ncl.ac.uk)
Footnotes
Hide All

Declaration of interest

None.

Footnotes
References
Hide All
1 Ministry of Justice. The Registered Intermediary Procedural Guidance Manual. Ministry of Justice, 2015.
2 Cooper, P. Intermediaries: Step by Step. Toolkit 16. ATC The Advocate's Gateway, 2015.
3 Mattison, M. Using Communications Aids in the Criminal Justice System: Toolkit 14. ATC The Advocate's Gateway, 2015.
4 Criminal Practice Directions [2013] EWCA Crim 1631.
5 Law Commission. Unfitness to Plead. Available at http://www.lawcom.gov.uk/project/unfitness-to-plead/ (accessed 11 Sep 2015)
6 Folstein, M, Folstein, SE, McHugh, PR. “Mini-Mental State”. A practical method for grading the cognitive state of patients for the clinician. J Psychiatr Res 1975; 12: 189–98.
7 Cooper, P. Identifying Vulnerability in Witnesses and Defendants: Toolkit 10. ATC The Advocate's Gateway, 2015.
8 R v Lubemba [2014] EWCA Crim 2064.
9 Judiciary of England and Wales. Report of the Vulnerable Witnesses & Children Working Group. Judiciary of England and Wales, 2015.
10 Isaacs, E. Vulnerable Witnesses and Parties in the Family Courts: Toolkit 13. ATC The Advocate's Gateway, 2014.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

BJPsych Bulletin
  • ISSN: 2056-4694
  • EISSN: 2056-4708
  • URL: /core/journals/bjpsych-bulletin
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 1
Total number of PDF views: 28 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 63 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 2nd January 2018 - 19th July 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Vulnerable patients going to court: a psychiatrist's guide to special measures

  • Penny Cooper (a1) (a2) and Janet Grace (a3) (a4)
Submit a response

eLetters

Scottish provisions for vulnerable witnesses

Michael W Turner, Core Trainee in Psychiatry, NHS Grampian
Alasdair D Forrest, Specialist Registrar in Forensic Psychiatry and Medical Psychotherapy, NHS Grampian
Daniel M Bennett, Honorary Senior Lecturer and Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist, University of Aberdeen, NHS Grampian
25 August 2016

Cooper and Grace discussed the special measures for vulnerable witnesses in England and Wales (1). We hope to provide the context of these provisions in Scotland.

In Scottish legislation an individual may be deemed vulnerable when giving evidence if they are under 18 or have a mental disorder which may affect the quality of this evidence. Under the Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2014 ‘standard special measures’ are given for vulnerable witnesses. In contrast to England and Wales, these measures also apply to those who are accused. The following measures are included in the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 (3) (Section 271H):

•‘Taking of evidence by a commissioner’: an individual appointed by the courts takes the evidence.

•‘Use of a live television link’: the witness gives evidence from somewhere outside the courtroom by means of a live television link, not necessarily within the court building.

•‘Use of a screen’: the accused is physically concealed from the witness, although the court ensures that the accused can watch and hear the witness giving evidence.

•‘Use of a supporter’: supporters can be selected by witnesses or on their behalf. Their role is to support witnesses while the witnesses give evidence. If they also have to give evidence, they must do so before acting as supporters.

•‘Giving evidence in chief in the form of a prior statement’: a statement by the witness is lodged in evidence without the witness having to speak in court.

If it was felt that these measures were necessary, a Vulnerable Witness Application would need to be lodged by those who are citing the witness. This application includes which measures are being requested and the views of the witness, including any carer if possible. The court has the final decision on which measures are most appropriate.

In contrast to England and Wales legislation, the Vulnerable Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2004 also put an end to the competence test for witnesses. Competency is set out in England and Wales legislation under the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999. The advantage of removing this test is that it allows the judge or jury to determine the witness’s reliability, rather than a test which did not necessarily ensure the truthfulness of their evidence. This ensures that vulnerable people have the opportunity to be heard.

It is important that practitioners working with vulnerable witnesses who may be appearing in the Scottish courts are aware of these procedures, as their input could drastically change a witness’ experience of the court. Psychiatrists are in the position to advise on optimum conditions to aid a patient’s mental state, and in so doing not only ensure a fair legal process, but also a legal process that is as stress-free as possible.

Reference



1 Cooper P, Grace J. Vulnerable patients going to court: a psychiatrist’s guide to special measures. BJPsych Bull 2016; 40: 220-2.

... More

Conflict of interest: None Declared

Write a reply

×

Reply to: Submit a response


Your details


Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *