Good news for ISVAs

Good News for ISVAs who want to support their clients at court

A judicial check list giving guidance to Judges about how best to deal with children and young people who are appearing in court proceedings has recently been published

The check list asks the Judge to consider who should support the child in the live TV link room as below

‘Specify person independent, (with whom child has relationship of trust) to provide emotional support in live link room: child’s wishes must be taken into account’

 In the past, this role has been undertaken in some courts by members of the witness service and in others by ushers from the court. However a recent practice direction has specified that the witness supporter need not be an usher or court official.

Limeculture has been made aware of a number applications made by ISVAs to undertake this role. Although there has been some challenge from the judiciary and members of the Bar, a number of successful applications have been made.

In one case in Manchester, a child advocate was granted permission by the court to support her client, a 9 year old child. Likewise in the North East, in spite of the prosecuting barrister initially refusing to make an application for the ISVA to support her 12 year old client who had been sexually exploited, he changed his mind having researched the matter further and an application was made to the court. Although the judge had initially been reluctant to grant the application, he then approved it. The case will be heard in the next few weeks.

It should be noted that

  • There are National Standards relating to witness supporters. The ISVA will have to satisfy the court that they are independent and not aware of the specific detail of the case.
  • Details of request for the ISVA to support the witness should be made as part of the special measures application
  •  It is worth noting that the court are likely insist on the usher remaining in the live TV link room. This is to ensure the integrity of the process and to help with the Judges directions from the court room.

So far we have not been informed of any successful applications for ISVAs to support adults in the live link room. However the principles are the same.

Limeculture has raised the potential for the IVSAs to carry out this role with the Home Office. By working with the Ministry of Justice, it may be that they can help to ensure some consistency in how the courts approach these applications.

If you would like further information about this, please contact

LimeCulture has its 1st birthday!

LimeCulture is 1 year old! What a fantastic year it has been for us!

For those of you that don’t know anything about LimeCulture, we are a specialist sexual violence organisation that was established in July 2011. Our ultimate aim is to improve the competence and confidence of frontline professionals responding to victims of sexual violence.

We decided to set up LimeCulture after completing a 2 year programme of work for the Department of Health and Home Office supporting local partnerships across England to improve their response to sexual violence. During 2009-2011, we supported 39 police force areas and their key partners (Health, Local Authority, third sector etc). Throughout that period of work, we recognised the overwhelming need to support frontline professionals. These professionals are key in helping and supporting the people who are often the most vulnerable in our society. Many of these professionals told us that they often work in isolation and have training and support needs themselves.

So in July 2011, LimeCulture was born. We brought together a range of national experts (from forensic scientists to SARC managers, police officers to psychologists!) and asked them to be part of LimeCulture. Luckily, they all set yes and set about developing training courses and workshops that would support the frontline professionals that we are aiming to support!

A year on and we have successfully run a number of training courses. We are now 2 modules into our 3rd Independence Sexual Violence Adviser (ISVA) Development Programme. Initially, we only intended to run it once and the demand has been so great that we have now run it 3 times since September!

Our Crisis Worker Development Programme has been run twice and we have now provided bespoke training to a number of Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCS) across the country. Plus we have run a range of other workshops and masterclasses for professionals.

We are in the process of developing our training programme for the next 12 months, so if you have any ideas or suggestions, we would love to hear from you. We are really keen to make sure that all our training is developed by professionals FOR professionals….so keep us posted about what you need or want!

Thanks for your support!