Currently published as: Journal of Intellectual Disabilities and Offending Behaviour
Online from: 2010
Subject Area: Health and Social Care
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|Title:||Accused of murder: supporting the communication needs of a vulnerable defendant at court and at the police station|
|Author(s):||Brendan M. O'Mahony, (Forensic psychologist and a Registered Intermediary based at CJS Psychology, Diss, UK)|
|Citation:||Brendan M. O'Mahony, (2012) "Accused of murder: supporting the communication needs of a vulnerable defendant at court and at the police station", Journal of Learning Disabilities and Offending Behaviour, Vol. 3 Iss: 2, pp.77 - 84|
|Keywords:||Appropriate adults, Courts, Disadvantaged groups, Intellectual disability, Intermediaries, Learning disabilities, Police caution, Suspect interviews, Vulnerable defendants|
|Article type:||General review|
|DOI:||10.1108/20420921211280060 (Permanent URL)|
|Publisher:||Emerald Group Publishing Limited|
Purpose – This paper's aim is to examine the interaction between an intermediary, a vulnerable defendant and barristers and the judge in a courtroom. The paper seeks to consider how the communication needs of vulnerable defendants, such as those with learning disabilities, should be addressed in the criminal justice system.
Design/methodology/approach – The paper considers the legal landscape for dealing with vulnerable defendants. A case example and court and police interview transcripts are then used to illustrate some of the communication needs of vulnerable people in the criminal justice system.
Findings – The paper highlights the complexities of the language that is used by lawyers in the courtroom and the difficulties that this can cause for a vulnerable defendant. Additionally, this paper reveals the difficulties that the police caution can present to a vulnerable suspect in custody.
Social implications – Vulnerable witnesses or defendants may be disadvantaged in understanding questions and the implications of answers that they provide in a courtroom or in attendance at a police station. The criminal justice system should support these individuals and provide guidance and training to professionals. The author identifies a need for more research in this area.
Originality/value – This is one of the first published papers to examine the interaction between an intermediary, a vulnerable defendant and barristers and the judge in the courtroom. The paper considers how the communication needs of vulnerable defendants should be addressed in the criminal justice system.
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