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Witness support resource list people with intellectual disabilities

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          SUPPORTING WITNESSES WITH LEARNING DISABILITIES
                      RESOURCE LIST.
          (COMPILED MAY 2003, UPDATED MARCH 2006)

Useful Reading for Witnesses with Learning Disabilities and Supporters.


The following publications are tailored for the use of people with learning disabilities. They are a good starting point for both witnesses and supporters who have little experience of the Criminal Justice System.

Going to Court

Hollins, S., Sinason, V. and Boniface, J., (1994), Gaskell ISBN 1874439087 In the ‘Books Beyond Words’ series, this booklet gives a picture and text explanation of the experience of going to court in a user-friendly style.

No More Abuse

CHANGE and VOICE U.K., (2000), Derby, VOICE UK. A booklet that ‘helps people recognize when they are the victims of crime or are being treated badly, then deal with what has happened, and stop it happening again…We would like to see a copy in all the places that are used by men and women with learning difficulties…so that everybody learns that men and women with learning difficulties have rights and should not be treated badly.’

As reviewed in the British Journal of Learning Disabilities, Vol. 29, p110-111 Copies of No More Abuse can be ordered from:

VOICE UK, Tel. 01332202555

The Legal Steps You Can Take if You Have Been the Victim of Abuse

S. Willott, South Birmingham PCT Witness Support Service (contact details below). A step by step guide to the courtroom experience told using pictures and text.

       Useful reading for supporters

Just Gateways?

Towards a changed police response to people with learning disabilities as victims of crime.

Sharp, H., (2001), London, Values Into Action, ISBN 0903945576.

This book discusses relevant research and outlines suggestions that will give people with learning disabilities better access to the police and Criminal Justice System.

Invisible Victims

Williams, C., (1995), Jessica Kingsley Publications, ISBN 1-85302-309-4

‘Williams ably describes the situation and the wide range of crime, abuse and victimisation which can take place... This publication will be an excellent source book.’ As reviewed in Community Care Magazine.


Supporting Best Evidence

VOICE UK and CHANGE, 2001, ISBN 0952608537

A comprehensive guide for support workers who will be assisting witnesses with learning disabilities through the Criminal Justice System. This publication provides insight into what and whom the process will involve and gives information about the legal implications of working with a person who will be giving evidence in court.

Support for People with Learning Disabilities who have been Abused.

VOICE UK, (2000), Journal of Adult Protection, Vol. 2, issue 4.

This article describes the work of VOICE UK, an organisation that works in the field of abuse of adults with learning disabilities.

Notes on The Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 Regarding Vulnerable Witnesses

Ann Craft Trust Bulletin, (2000), issue 33, pp10-14.

Information on the nature of ‘special measures’ that can be requested and agreed to by the court for vulnerable witnesses.

Communication Issues: Implications for Vulnerable Witnesses.

Ann Craft Trust Bulletin, (2000), issue 33, pp17-20.

Article written by a speech and language therapist offering guidance for supporting effective communication in interviews.

Barriers to Justice

Mencap, (1997), Mencap.

Paper that details how people with learning disabilities are treated by the Criminal Justice System. A little out of date but could still be of use.

The Witness Charter

Home Office, 2005.

New standards of care for witnesses in the criminal justice system. Criminal Justice System publication and consultation paper.

The Code of Practice for Victims of Crime

Home Office, 2005.

A paper that sets out the service victims can expect to receive from the criminal justice system. To become law in April 2006.

Speaking up for Justice

Home Office Report, (1998).

Document detailing the investigation and recommendations made by an interdepartmental group on the treatment of vulnerable witnesses in the Criminal Justice System.

Action for Justice

Home Office, 1999.

A report on how to services can respond to the outcomes of ‘Speaking up for Justice’ report.

Achieving Best Evidence in Criminal Proceedings: Guidance for vulnerable or Intimidated Witnesses, Including Children.

Home Office Publications, (2002)

2-volume publication on implementing the Speaking up for Justice Report.

Pertinent chapters listed below. Chapter 3: planning and conducting interviews with vulnerable and intimidated witnesses. Chapter 4: witness support and preparation. Chapter 5: witness at court.

No Secrets

Department of Health, March 2000.

Guidance on developing and implementing multi-agency policies and procedures to protect vulnerable adults from abuse.

Witnesses with Learning Disabilities

Sanders, A., Creaton, J., Bird, S. and Weber, L., (1996), Research Findings No.44, Home Office Research and Statistics Directorate, ISBN 1364-6540.

Through the use of case studies this document identifies some of the wide ranging problems faced by witnesses with learning disabilities.

No Witness–No Justice

Towards a National Strategy for Witnesses, 2003.

Report of the inter-agency working group on witnesses, long document not just specific to learning disabilities.

Justice and Empowerment for People with Learning Disabilities who have been Abused

Willott, S., Rabone, L., Offen, L. and Pratap, S., (2004), Clinical Psychology, 34, 25-27.

Jurors’ Perception of Witnesses with Intellectual Disabilities and the Influence of Expert Advice.

Stobbs, G. and Kebbell, M., Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities 2003, 16, 107-114

British Journal of Learning Disabilities, Vol. 29, issue 3, September 2001.

Special edition focussing on witnesses with learning disabilities.

        Useful Reading for Clinical Psychologists 
                     and Therapists

Provision of Therapy for Vulnerable or Intimidated Adult Witnesses Prior to a Criminal Trial: Practice Guidance Implementing the Speaking up for Justice Report, (2001) Home Office/Crown Prosecution Service/Department of Health, (2002), Home Office Communication Directorate.

Professional Practice Guidelines Division of Clinical Psychology, (1995), British Psychological Society.

Clinical Psychology and Case Notes: Guidance on Good Practice Division of Clinical Psychology, (2000), British Psychological Society.

British Psychological Society Code of Conduct British Psychological Society, (1993).

Guidance on Court Reports Cape, J., Lee D., Channon, S. and Persuad, N., (1999), Clinical Psychology Forum, 124, 15-18.


                   Organisations

Liverpool Investigations Support Unit Tel. 0151 2334989, Mark Pathack or Geraldine Monaghan 1st Floor Lilac Cottage, Newhall Campus, Longmoor Lane, Fazakerley, Liverpool, L10 1LD.

Unit run by Liverpool Social Services that works with witnesses with learning disabilities and helps to prepare them for going to court. The service has developed excellent links with all agencies involved in the hearing process and by formulating and presenting a ‘Witness Profile’ prepares the court for the individual needs of the witness. This service has been recognised as ‘best practice’ and at the time of writing is disseminating their experiences and procedures nationally.

Ann Craft Trust Tel. 0115 951 5400 Centre for social work, University Park, Nottingham University, Nottingham, NG7 2RD. Ann Craft Trust

The ACT responds to the needs and concerns of people working in the caring professions by providing information, advice, training, conferences, research and publications including a quarterly bulletin for members.

British Institute of Learning Disabilities Tel. 01562 723 010 BILD, Campion House, Green Street, Kidderminster, Worcestershire, DY10 1JL. BUILD

A charity that provides information, publications and training services for organisations and individuals.

CHANGE Tel. 0113 243 0202 CHANGE, Unity Business Centre, Units 19, 20+26, Roundhay Road, Leeds, L57 1AB. CHANGE

A national organisation for people with learning disabilities specialising in helping those who are also deaf or blind.

RESPOND Tel. General Enquiries 0207 383 0700 Helpline 0808 808 0700 (Mon-Fri 1:30pm-5pm) Respond, 3RD floor, 24-32 Stephonson Way, London, NW12HD RESPOND

Provides services to victims and perpetrators of sexual abuse who have learning disabilities as well as training and support for those who work with them.

Values Into Action Tel. 0207 729 5436 Oxford House, Derbyshire Street, London, E26HG Values into Action

UK wide organisation for people with learning disabilities and those who work with them. Information, support and publisher of relevant books etc.

Victim Support Tel. Support Line 0845 303 0900 Victim Support

Charity that helps people cope with the effects of crime. They aim to promote and advance the rights of victims and witnesses including those with learning disabilities. The organisation runs a witness service based in every criminal court in England and Wales.

VOICE UK Tel. General Enquiries 01332 869 311 The College Business Centre, Uttoxeter New Road, Derby, DE223WZ VOICE UK

VOICE UK is a support and information group for adults and children with learning disabilities who have experienced crime or abuse, and their families and carers. It also campaigns for changes in the law and in practice.


Witness Support Service Tel. General Enquiries 0121 465 8650 South Birmingham PCT, Witness Support Service, 66 Anchorage Road, Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham, B74 2PH.

Service run by psychology department of South Birmingham PCT that offers support to witnesses with learning disabilities.

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