Section 29 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 provides for the examination of a witness to be conducted through an Intermediary approved by the courts. It has been identified that some witnesses need assistance to give best evidence, and that this can be facilitated by the use of an Intermediary, who is an Officer of the Court. Children and those who have a communication impairment are viewed as vulnerable witnesses.
The Intermediary is responsible for carrying out an assessment of the witness's communication needs, give advice to help the Police and Crown Prosecution Service achieve best evidence during the investigation and trial stages, and help with pre-trial preparation.
A description of the Scheme will be provided and further illustrated by the experiences of an Intermediary. At the time of the Symposium, the Ministry of Justice will be recruiting a further group of Intermediaries.