CROSS-EXAMINATION OF CHILD WITNESSES.pdf (811.54 kB)

Intermediaries and cross-examination resilience in children: The development of a novel experimental methodology

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posted on 30.03.2021, 15:29 by Lucy Henry, Laura Crane, Amanda Millmore, Gilly Nash, Rachel Wilcock
Experimental studies examining child ‘witnesses’ under cross-examination typically rely on researchers questioning children using a ‘barrister’s script’. In the current research, experienced barristers used a defence statement from a mock perpetrator (who committed a theft 11 months earlier) to challenge typically developing children’s evidence under cross-examination. We also assessed whether Registered Intermediaries (RIs), trained professionals who facilitate communication between vulnerable witnesses and members of the justice system, help children reduce compliance with misleading cross-examination suggestions. Results demonstrated that children (6-11 years) complied with barristers’ challenges to a high degree: 94% agreed with at least one of the barristers’ seven false suggestions. However, when assisted by an RI, children were significantly less compliant with barrister challenges. These findings, and additional analyses of the nature of child responses and barrister questions, provide novel empirical evidence for the beneficial role of RIs in tempering the adverse effects of cross-examination style questioning for children.

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Access to justice for children with autism spectrum disorders

Economic and Social Research Council

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City, University of London

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