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 firstname.lastname@example.org