Speech, Language and Communication Needs within the court system

The RCSLT has been campaigning to raise awareness of the communication needs of defendants, and 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.

These young people do not understand words such as:

  • Liable 
  • Remorse
  • Reparation 
  • Threatening
  • Victim  

These difficulties have prevented effective access to the legal and court system and more information on this can be found in ‘unfitness to plead


The role of registered and non-registered intermediaries


Intermediaries work in the Justice System to enable vulnerable witnesses, victims, suspects and defendants to give complete coherent and accurate evidence to police and at court.


Their primary role is to facilitate the communication of children and vulnerable adults with the justice professionals involved in investigations and trials.


Find out more about obtaining the services of a registered intermediary (RI).


Special Measures and the Witness Intermediary Scheme


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. 


(Please note the lower case spelling of the word intermediary in the context of the YJCE Act legislation). 


The Witness Intermediary Scheme (WIS) was set up by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to implement the intermediary special measure and through which Registered Intermediaries (RIs) operate. The WIS has been available in all 43 police forces and Crown Prosecution Services (CPS) areas in England and Wales since September 2008. 


The MoJ retain overall governance, strategy and policy management of the WIS while The National Crime Agency’s (NCA’s) Specialist Operations Centre operates and manages the WIS’s matching service, on behalf of the MoJ.


Becoming an intermediary


If you would like to become a Registered Intermediary, expressions of interest can be made via email to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) through


The MoJ will then contact you once recruitment has resumed.

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