Vulnerable witnesses need more support, executive study concludes

Vulnerable people called as witnesses in court are often damaged
by the experience, according to a new publication by the Scottish

‘Vulnerable and Intimidated Witnesses: Review of Provisions in
Other Jurisdictions’, studied the impact of court appearances on
children, adults with a physical disability, mental health
problems, learning difficulties, and those likely to be subject to

The study found that the availability of supportive arrangements
varied between courts, and nowhere were the effectiveness of such
provisions measured.

Vulnerable defendants were not afforded the same support, an
aspect that seems to be a breach of human rights. Further,
different courts defined ‘vulnerable’ differently, and
while children were always included adults with learning
difficulties or a physical impairment were excluded in many

The study concluded that many vulnerable people suffered due to
the court processes themselves, and that further work was required
by the Scottish executive to extend support measures, to produce a
national definition of vulnerability, and ensure support was
provided in every court.






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