"Every young person is different": A qualitative analysis of professionals' perspectives on the introduction of Section 28 pre-trial cross-examination

Kathryn Rowsell, Juliane A. Kloess, Samantha Fairclough, Melissa F. Colloff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

It is widely assumed in adversarial legal systems that cross-examination is the most effective method to ascertain the truth. However, a growing body of literature demonstrates the efficacy of cross-examination can be negatively impacted by individual differences such as age, and case factors including the delay between witnessing the event in question and testifying at trial. Moreover, the process of cross-examination can be a distressing experience for young witnesses. The introduction of ‘Section 28’ pre-trial cross-examination in courts throughout England and Wales is an attempt to improve the experiences and evidence quality of young witnesses in light of these concerns. This paper presents the views of seven police officers and six charity workers (commissioned through the local Police and Crime Commissioner to provide emotional support to young people affected by crime) who were interviewed prior to the national implementation of the Section 28 scheme for pre-trial cross-examination. It remains the only work that draws on insights from those from the charitable sector who support young witnesses through trial. It also provides more recent insights from police officers on their perspectives of the, then prospective, scheme. Two superordinate themes were identified: (a) the need for careful application, and (b) the impact of Section 28 on defendants. The findings are discussed considering the current literature, and context of the implementation of Section 28 since the study was conducted. Limitations of the research and suggestions for future practice are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-60
JournalThames Valley Police Journal
Volume8
Publication statusPublished - 20 Nov 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Section 28 hearings
  • vulnerable and intimidated witnesses
  • cross-examination
  • young witnesses
  • barristers
  • judges
  • police officers
  • charity workers

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