This collection of papers deserves a very wide readership across the globe. As a practitioner in mental health and subsequently children law, I am never complacent about support services for the vulnerable.
Where are we in 2016? Refugees across Europe are in urgent need of support, including advocacy, to prevent further threats to basic human rights. Long-term prisoners in many countries, some of them on death row, often have serious mental health problems which have been overlooked. We face the prospect of losing the European Convention on Human Rights in the UK (what would a British Bill of Human Rights look like?).
It would be hard to find another anthology with this range of subject matter. Professor Penny Cooper and Linda Hunting have brought together contributors from a wide range of backgrounds, with vital information about measures to support and empower vulnerable parties as well as witnesses. It is long overdue.
Authors: Penny Cooper, Linda Hunting
£19.95, Wildy, Simmonds & Hill
How many who are not criminal practitioners could identify all eight special measures contained in the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999? Professor Cooper herself sets them out in her essay. But how could it have taken until 2014 for the Court of Appeal to set out comprehensively in Lubemba ( EWCA Crim 2064) safeguards for vulnerable defendants in criminal trials? (See O’Mahony as well as Cooper.)
Much of this work focuses on crime. Vulnerable Voices is particularly welcome guidance coming, as it does, with contributions from Waine Clegg and Anthony Fletcher who are themselves learning-disabled. But I would like to have seen something about tribunal procedures in areas such as housing, immigration and benefits.
If there is a gap it is in relation to the vulnerable among ethnic minorities. Felicity Gerry QC sets out useful Key Points when using interpreters, and she references the important Prison Reform Trust report on access to justice, which highlights the plight of vulnerable defendants in the criminal justice system. As a whole, this work has a eurocentric perspective, but it is an important step in the right direction.
Mike Hinchliffe is principal lawyer at Cafcass Legal