The role of Intermediary Services in Criminal Proceedings
During the course of a criminal Trial, the Court is obliged to ensure that vulnerable parties or witnesses are able to fully understand the proceedings and effectively communicate, which it achieves by the provision of Intermediary Assistance where required.
In order to satisfy this requirement, The Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 (‘the Act’) provides certain witnesses access to special measures, where appropriate, to help improve the quality of the evidence given.
Mohammed Ahmed briefly outlines the appointment and role of an Intermediary.
The Team at Kangs Solicitors offers immense experience gained from representing clients facing prosecution for alleged criminal activity of every nature before Criminal Courts at all levels from Magistrates’ and Crown Courts to the highest Courts.
For an initial no obligation discussion, please contact our team at any of the offices detailed
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The Relevant Law
The Act provides at section 16:
‘Witnesses eligible for assistance on grounds of age or incapacity.
(1) ……….a witness in criminal proceedings (other than the accused) is eligible for assistance by virtue of this section—
(a) if under the age of 18 at the time of the hearing; or
(b) if the court considers that the quality of evidence given by the witness is likely to be diminished by reason of any circumstances falling within subsection (2).
(2) The circumstances falling within this subsection are—
(a) that the witness—
(I) suffers from mental disorder within the meaning of the Mental Health Act 1983, or
(ii) otherwise has a significant impairment of intelligence and social functioning;
(b) that the witness has a physical disability or is suffering from a physical disorder.
(3) In subsection (1)(a) “the time of the hearing”, in relation to a witness, means the time when it falls to the court to make a determination for the purposes of section 19(2) in relation to the witness.
(4) In determining whether a witness falls within subsection (1)(b) the court must consider any views expressed by the witness.
(5) ……references to the quality of a witness’s evidence are to its quality in terms of completeness, coherence and accuracy; and for this purpose “coherence” refers to a witness’s ability in giving evidence to give answers which address the questions put to the witness and can be understood both individually and collectively.’
The General Nature of Intermediary Services
Intermediaries are communication specialists who work on behalf of HM Courts & Tribunal Services and seek to improve the trial process where communication problems arise by providing support which can include:
- advising on how to answer questions when giving evidence,
- explaining the rights available including that of requiring a break whilst giving evidence,
- assist with explaining and rephrasing any questions which are not understood.
- ensuring that the proceedings are understood.
Intermediaries ensure that an individual is not disadvantaged through personal difficulties which may affect their ability to participate fully at the Hearing by reason of difficulties created by, for example:
- mental health,
- physical disability,
- neurological problems,
- understanding and following complex terminology.
Identifying the Requirement for
of an Intermediary
The potential need for the involvement of an Intermediary may be identified by the:
- Police at the investigation stage,
- Solicitor when preparing the defence case,
- Judge when conducting the court proceedings.
Once the potential need for the appointment of an intermediary has been identified, a formal Request will be made following which an Assessment will follow.
The Court has a common law power to approve the use of intermediaries and the ultimate decision is made by the Judge.
Intermediaries may be required for specific parts of the trial process or the whole trial depending on the defendant’s communication difficulties.
How Can We Assist?
It is important that those who feel vulnerable or disadvantaged in any way appreciate the support services which are available to assist both preparing for and throughout the whole criminal defence procedure.
The Team at Kangs Solicitors has many years’ experience supporting and guiding vulnerable clients facing allegations of criminal activity of every nature before Criminal Courts at all levels from Magistrates’ and Crown Courts to the highest Courts. We are recognised as one of the leading criminal defence firms in the country and have been ‘Top Ranked’ by the leading legal directories, Chambers UK and The Legal 500 for many years.
If you are being investigated or have been charged with a criminal offence of any nature, it is essential that you seek immediate expert advice to ensure that you have been offered all the assistance available to you and that your position is protected as far as possible.
Our experienced Team is available to meet at any of our offices in Birmingham, London or Manchester or alternatively, we are happy to arrange a meeting via video conferencing.
For an initial no obligation discussion, please contact our team.