24 Jul Press release: New drive to help victims and witnesses give best evidence in South East
- 50 specialists being recruited to help vulnerable victims and witnesses
- Recruits to support courts and police in Kent, Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire and Thames Valley
- Government acts to meet increased regional demand for ‘Registered Intermediaries’
Registered Intermediaries (RIs) are used in criminal proceedings to help vulnerable witnesses communicate their evidence to the police and in court. RIs recently helped victims and witnesses ranging from a two-year old, to a dying man with motor neurone disease give courtroom evidence.
Around 50 RIs are being recruited in the South East, to provide support in the police force areas of Kent, Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire and Thames Valley.
The Government is focussing on the South East, given the region had the highest number of unmatched requests for intermediary support for witnesses between October 2017 to March 2018.
A witness might need the help of a Registered Intermediary because of their age, or a learning, mental or physical disability or disorder. An effective RI can often be the difference between a witness being able to give their best evidence or not.
Justice Minister Lucy Frazer said:
It is vital that victims and witnesses, particularly those who are vulnerable, get the support they need to give their best evidence.
The vast majority of those who need help already receive it – with over 90% of requests for intermediaries met last year.
Our targeted recruitment drive will ensure access to justice for even more vulnerable people, through the help of trained professionals who understand their specific needs and well-being.
Applicants in the South East have until 27 July to apply and should visit – https://bit.ly/2O5Yx9I
Jennifer Beaumont, an occupational therapist who has been a registered intermediary since 2009, said:
I saw an advert to become a Registered Intermediary, I had no idea what one was, nor the vital role they play in the criminal justice system.
No two cases are the same, and knowing that you have helped a vulnerable person who would have found it difficult to gain fair access to justice, in terms of communicating their best evidence, is incredibly rewarding.
The role has taken me across England and Wales as well as on deployment to Kenya to facilitate a child to give evidence via video link to a British Court.
Our work cannot be underestimated, and I’m pleased more victims and witnesses will now be able to benefit from having an RI facilitate communication in the criminal justice system.
The Ministry of Justice recently doubled the size of the registered intermediary scheme with more than 6,500 witnesses last year supported by an RI and over 90 per cent of requests being met.
Training has also been strengthened to ensure victims and witnesses have the best support possible to be involved in the court process.
Notes to editors
- RIs come from a wide background of professional backgrounds, including speech and language therapy, social work and mental health professions.
- The Ministry of Justice is looking to recruit around 50 RIs to their Registered Intermediary Scheme to provide support in the police force areas of Kent, Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire and Thames Valley. You must live in or near this area (a neighbouring police force area) to be eligible, not meeting this requirement could result in your application being withdrawn.
- Successful recruitment has already taken place in the East Midlands, with 27 successful candidates being trained up this summer. Attention has now focussed to the South East to meet growing demand for RIs in the area, with further recruitment campaigns scheduled in other regions throughout the year.