‘Robust and raring to go?’– judges' perceptions of child witnesses

Fiona E. Raitt

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    2 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    This article explores judicial perceptions of child witnesses. It considers the impact of recent legislation in England and Wales as well as in Scotland which classified all child witnesses as vulnerable and introduced a series of special measures to facilitate children's evidence. The article reports the findings of an empirical research study conducted with the judiciary in Scotland which suggests that judicial perceptions of child witnesses extend across a complex spectrum where a child may be viewed as vulnerable but is also likely to be seen as suggestible, reliable or resilient. The article advances two propositions. First, that the statutory conceptualization of children as invariably vulnerable has not displaced established beliefs concerning children's suggestibility and therefore has made little difference to perceptions of their ability to produce reliable testimony. Second, that focusing on children's potential for resilience rather than their vulnerability may prove a more productive conceptualization of children, one which could better support their capability as witnesses.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)465-488
    Number of pages24
    JournalJournal of Law and Society
    Volume34
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2007

    Fingerprint

    witness
    judiciary
    testimony
    resilience
    empirical research
    vulnerability
    legislation
    ability
    evidence

    Keywords

    • Criminal evidence
    • Children
    • Judges
    • Scotland
    • Vulnerable and intimidated witnesses

    Cite this

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    abstract = "This article explores judicial perceptions of child witnesses. It considers the impact of recent legislation in England and Wales as well as in Scotland which classified all child witnesses as vulnerable and introduced a series of special measures to facilitate children's evidence. The article reports the findings of an empirical research study conducted with the judiciary in Scotland which suggests that judicial perceptions of child witnesses extend across a complex spectrum where a child may be viewed as vulnerable but is also likely to be seen as suggestible, reliable or resilient. The article advances two propositions. First, that the statutory conceptualization of children as invariably vulnerable has not displaced established beliefs concerning children's suggestibility and therefore has made little difference to perceptions of their ability to produce reliable testimony. Second, that focusing on children's potential for resilience rather than their vulnerability may prove a more productive conceptualization of children, one which could better support their capability as witnesses.",
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    ‘Robust and raring to go?’– judges' perceptions of child witnesses. / Raitt, Fiona E.

    In: Journal of Law and Society, Vol. 34, No. 4, 12.2007, p. 465-488.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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