Ulster Unionist Justice spokesperson Tom Elliott has welcomed the ‘Registered Intermediaries’ pilot scheme which will commence in Belfast Crown Court in April 2013 in a bid to assist victims, witnesses and defendants better understand questions asked of them, and to help communicate their answers more effectively during a police investigation or when giving evidence at trial.
The Fermanagh & South Tyrone MLA said:
“The scheme is obviously to be welcomed as a means of ensuring that vulnerable people are able to participate in the justice system by having a “Registered Intermediary” to assist them.
I support anything that assists the smooth running of the justice process and if this scheme works as it is intended, then vulnerable people, whether they are a victim, witness or a defendant, will be more able to communicate effectively within the court setting. I also hope it will lessen any instances where people may evade prosecution simply because of the vulnerability of a victim, or a victim being unable to express themselves or give evidence in a way suitable to them.
This is a welcome development but obviously its success will be measured in the results which it produces. The evaluation process at the end of the 12 month pilot will therefore be essential before any decision is taken on whether to roll out the scheme to other areas.”