This is an interesting and informative book, if you are an intermediary or prospective intermediary.
The book is written in plain English in a sympathetic tone, evidencing the writer’s significant experience. The content covers the full transaction from pre-court, through to evidence and post-court considerations and assistance.
Having this broad spectrum is very helpful – and clearly conveys the message about the importance of the whole process rather than concentrating on what happens in court. The book is written with the complainant’s narrative and so largely deals with issues from that perspective. It would have been interesting to hear more about how the vulnerability of defendant witnesses could be addressed.
Author: Barbara Mitchels
£35, Wildy, Simmonds and Hill Publishing
The content concentrates on psychological, age and case-specific vulnerability – for example, complainants of sexual offences. An opportunity to explore other sources of vulnerability, such as poverty, was not taken. Nevertheless, the consideration of approaches, both in terms of the special measures available and matters to take into account when supporting vulnerable witnesses, is sound and can be applied to the full range of vulnerable witnesses.
The book contains all the relevant legislation (save it is perhaps unfortunate that it was published shortly before the changes that heralded the new pre-trial regime and Digital Case System and so some of the matters referred to are already out of date – for example, plea and case management hearings are now pre-trial preparation hearings).
The practical advice regarding the application of the principles – that is, what an intermediary can and should do and consider – is helpful and assisted by easily accessible checklists for reference.
Taken together, the tone and concentration on the complainant perspective and experience combine to make the book less relevant for lawyers (prosecution or defence) in the criminal court.
I anticipate that it will be a valuable and practical resource for intermediaries and those undertaking sophisticated roles within criminal justice units or the court witness service.
Sandra Paul is a partner at Kingsley Napley, London