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.
- Criminal evidence
- Vulnerable and intimidated witnesses