Today’s post is a little different, as it’s especially for anyone who has communication problems (or knows someone who has) and is involved with the justice system in England and Wales.
If you’re a child, or you’ve got autism or ADHD or had a stroke, a court appearance may seem scary.
A court is a strange place. The judge and lawyers wear wigs and gowns. The room’s full of jury members, mysterious officials and odd members of the public, watching from the gallery.
Everyone uses strange language and talks too fast.
The good news is that the judge really wants you to be able to tell your story. He or she can make changes to help you.
- There’ll be other adults there as well, whose job is to help you.
- You may be able to talk to the court from a separate room, through a video link.
- Maybe the judge and barristers will take their wigs off, so you can see that they’re ordinary people.
You need to understand all the questions anyone asks you,so you may have a witness intermediary, like me, with you.
I work with people who have been a victim of crime, or know about one. I also work with a defendant, who’s been accused of something and is in court to stand trial.
This is what people like me do. We’ve had special training and we’re registered with the Ministry of Justice.
- We spend time with you, to find out a bit about you.
- Then we write to the courts. We tell them about any problems you have with understanding or talking.
- We meet with the judge and the lawyers before the trial.
- We may be there with you, in the separate room, called the ‘live link’ room.
- We can ask for a break if you get tired.
- We can suggest other ways that the lawyer asks you a question, so you understand it.
- We can point out to the judge if you get confused.
Remember, the judge wants you to have your say.
- · if you have difficulty in listening and concentrating,
- · if you find it hard to understand what people say,
- · if talking is difficult,
ask the police or your solicitor if a Witness Intermediary might be able to help.
Here’s more information about special measures in England and Wales.