Registered Intermediaries play an important role in allowing vulnerable witnesses with communication needs equal access to justice. Some vulnerable witnesses and victims need assistance with communication and understanding in order to achieve their best evidence – Registered Intermediaries assist them in communicating during an investigation and at trial. Registered Intermediaries will help to make the justice process accessible to some of the most vulnerable people in our society. In some cases a Registered Intermediary will be the difference between a witness being able to testify or not.
The RCSLT has been campaigning to raise awareness of the communication needs of defendants. Evidence from speech and language therapy projects working with youth offending teams across England shows that approximately 60% of young people who offend have communication problems and that these young people do not understand words such as liable, remorse, reparation, threatening and victim. These difficulties prevent access to the legal and court system. The RCSLT is delighted that the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 extends the intermediary special measure to eligible defendants (though not yet implemented).
Please read our briefing for more information
The Serious Organised Crime Agency operate and manage the Witness Intermediary Scheme (WIS) matching service on behalf of the Ministry of Justice.
Defining common terminology relating to the Witness Intermediary Scheme (WIS)
- Special Measures - The Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 (‘the YJCE Act’) created the provision for a range of ‘Special Measures’ for cases involving vulnerable and intimidated witnesses to give their best evidence in court, one of which is the intermediary special measure.
- The Witness Intermediary Scheme (WIS) - The scheme set up by the Ministry of Justice’s Better Trials Unit to implement the intermediary special measure and through which Registered Intermediaries operate. Please note the lower case spelling of the word intermediary in the context of the YJCE Act legislation.
- Registered Intermediary - A professional communications specialist who has been recruited, selected and accredited by the Ministry of Justice, and whose details are recorded on the Intermediary Register, the WIS’s national database. Such an individual will be known as a Registered Intermediary (RI). Please note the upper case spelling used for Registered Intermediary in the context of the WIS.
- Non-registered intermediary - Any individual – professionally trained or otherwise – who (i) assists a vulnerable defendant as an intermediary in the giving of evidence or throughout a trial. Please note that a prosecution or defence witness but is NOT recruited, selected and accredited by the Ministry of Justice as an RI operating within the WIS.
For general enquiries about the engagement of a Registered Intermediary, please contact the SOCA Specialist Operations Centre on 0845 000 5463.