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Witness Support, Preparation & Profiling. Mark Pathak – Social Worker (Citysafe Strategy Business Unit, Liverpool City Council). ISU/LCC. ©ISU/LCC. The Investigations Support Unit. Principal areas of activity. Admin Support and Legal liaison.

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Witness Support, Preparation & Profiling.

Mark Pathak – Social Worker

(Citysafe Strategy Business Unit, Liverpool City Council)



the investigations support unit
The InvestigationsSupport Unit

Principal areas of activity.

  • Admin Support and Legal liaison.
  • Managing “Consolidated List/RTC” notifications.
  • Risk assessment and information management – sexually exploited young people.
  • Witness Support, Preparation and Profiling offered to vulnerable witness.


the liverpool experience
The Liverpool Experience

My Starting Point:

  • True experiences.
  • 1996 and Operation Care.
  • My secondment.
  • Witness Support from Operation Care.

The National Picture:

  • “Barriers to Justice” (November 1997).
  • “Speaking Up For Justice Agenda”.
  • “Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act (1999)”.
  • “No Secrets” – Adult Protection.

The Liverpool Picture:

  • In first 18 trials, Measures to Assist granted by judicial discretion.
  • Tri-partite Protocol (CPS-Police-ISU) & Crown Ct Protocol.
barriers to justice mencap november 1997
“Barriers to Justice” (Mencap, November 1997)

1. Crimes are committed but never reported:

  • Do not consider action as a crime.
  • Tell a figure of authority who take it no further.

2. Once at the Police station: Police Officers said…

  • Only 35% have had any training about intellectualdisability. (Only 26% of these thought it was any good).
  • 71% said the training they had received was not helpful.

3. To prosecute or not to prosecute?:

  • Every year there are 1400 cases of sexual abuse against people with intellectual disabilities.
  • Of 248 cases, only 63 investigated, 2 went to court (less than 1%), with only 1 conviction (½%)
  • CPS rely on the police to assess a persons abilities.

4.See you in court: Barristers said…

  • 96% did not receive initial training on intellectual disabilities and only 8% had received such training since qualifying at the bar.
  • 90% saw the benefits of court preparation prior to trial.
  • 76% thought they could be reliable witnesses.


special measures youth justice and criminal evidence act 1999
Special Measures.(Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999)
  • Screening witness from the accused.
  • Evidence by live link.
  • Evidence in private (court cleared).
  • Removal of wigs.
  • Video recorded evidence-in-chief.
  • Aids to communication.
  • Video recorded cross-examination or re-examination (Not commenced as yet).
  • Examination of witness through an intermediary.


why few trials nationally
Why few trials nationally?

On a personal level:-

  • “They always tell lies”
  • “They make things up”
  • “Abuse does not really hurt them”

At a service/staff level:-

  • “Our staff are not trained or are not specialist interviewers”
  • “This is best dealt with on an in-house basis”
  • “It will be too hard to get the case to court”

At a trial level:-

  • “The experience will be far too damaging”
  • “They will change their story”
  • “The Barristers and Judges don’t really understand the issues”
  • “You can get them to say anything”



1 : 4 : 29



“Well everybody was getting abused left right and centre. Half the lads were getting battered. I was getting battered as well. I got damage at the back end, front end, the mouth as well. I got really I got damage all over my body. Half the time I could not sit down”.



“I told people in the past and nobody would listen to me so I said I might as well forget about it because nobody was going to listen. Right, if you would have told anybody you would have got a good hiding”.


what were the barriers in liverpool
What were the Barriers in Liverpool?

Basis of police decision making:-

  • Stereotypes
  • Homogeneity
  • Protective stance

Basis of Crown Prosecution Service decision


  • Stereotypes
  • Homogeneity
  • Protective stance


support and preparation of witness
Support and Preparation of Witness.





does a witness need to learn or develop?


  • Who is going to be there?................
  • Who does what?
  • When is the date?
  • What is the name of the Judge? The Barrister?
  • What does the court room look like?
  • How should I behave in court?
  • What are the procedures in court?....


what are the procedures in court
What are the procedures in court?....
  • Telling the truth.
  • Taking the oath.
  • Giving your evidence.
  • Cross-examination.
  • Leading questions vs. open questions. (Prosecution vs. defence)
  • Getting stuck.
  • What if you do not understand a question?
  • Asking for a break.
  • Acquiescence.
  • Confabulation.
  • Getting upset.
  • My support.
  • Special Measures.
  • Witness Profile.


understanding correcting misconceptions
Understanding.(correcting misconceptions)
  • It’s like TV.
  • I’ve given my statement, why do I need to go to court?
  • Can’t you read out my statement?
  • I have to say it out loud!!
  • I will sit across the table from the defendant.
  • The defendant will be able to talk to me.


  • The process is slow, the CJS is slow.
  • It’s like a jigsaw.
  • It will be hard.
  • PLD are not used to questioning staff. Staff have all the power.
  • “I don’t know” versus “I don’t understand”.
  • Saying “I want a break”.
  • Coping with pressure.
support and preparation of witness16
Support and Preparation of Witness.

Covers a range of information,understanding and skillsthat a witness needs to absorb.

Varies from witness to witness. But we have devised some rules of thumb:

  • Witness with intellectual disabilities need to know what to expect in court and what is going to happen to them.
  • Witnesses with intellectual disabilities learn best when they need to learn and when it is learnt in the place where the learning and knowledge will be used.
  • Witnesses with intellectual disabilities absorb and internalise information best when it is offered and taught by credible professionals.
  • Witnesses with intellectual disabilities have lives alongside and beyond their court preparation and appearance in court.


other players and their roles
Other Players and their Roles

1. Police Officers.

2. C.P.S. lawyers.

3. Social Workers.

4. Carers / Support workers.


witness preparation
The Witness

No coaching

Explaining the process

Assessment as a witness

Identifying and reducing obstacles.

The System

Statement/evidence issues

Stereotypes and homogeneity

“This witness in this trial”

Special Measures application and orders at PCMH.

Witness Preparation


how do witness profiles help
…people with Intellectual Disabilities?

“The judge does know I can’t read?”

“I can have a break can’t I?”

“It will be okay if I cry won’t it?”

“You will sit next to me won’t you?”

…people in the Criminal Justice System?


“What if they clam up”


“Will they make a good witness?”


“Will they give Best Evidence?”


“Will this allow a fair trial?”

How do Witness Profiles help…
the witness profile
The Witness Profile

1. Introduction

2. Special Measures

(As Under The Youth Justice & Criminal Evidence Act 1999)

3. Measures to assist

4. Medical needs

5. Appearance and Personality

6. General functional skills

7. Comprehension

8. Concentration

9. Communication

10. Vocabulary

11. Advice to Counsel:

(i) When asking questions

(ii) When questions are answered

12. Conclusion.


Measures to assist

• Paul is likely to need breaks every 20 minutes, in order to use the lavatory.

• There are times when other people find it difficult to understand what Paul has said. Paul understands that he alone can give his evidence. However if there are words which are unclear, I would be prepared to repeat them, for clarification, if so directed by the court.

General Functional Skills

• Paul presents himself as a "streetwise" and able man, possessing a range of skills. In reality many of these skills are superficial. His verbal skills are not matched by his performance skills.




• Paul swallows hard and regularly and this disrupts his speech.

• When Paul is asked to repeat what he has said, he will do so but will reduce the complexity of the sentence.

• However Paul gets annoyed if asked to repeat an answer too many times because he has not been understood. One way to help avoid this is to say “I missed that Paul can you say it again?” and use a word or words that Paul has used to prompt him.


paul cont d


• He wants to understand what is going on around him and he finds it difficult to say, “I do not understand”. He will give a totally inappropriate answer with an expression of defeat on his face rather than admit he does not understand.

• Because of this Paul needs permission to say “I don't understand” and should be reminded not to guess if he does not know the answer.


paul cont d24

Comprehension cont.

• When confused, Paul will look down and lift his hands (cupping one hand with the other) to his mouth and will bite the top of his thumb-nail and seem to be reflecting.

• When he is thinking, Paul sits back and shrinks into his chair and then crosses his arms. At this point he will either answer the question or indicate that he cannot do so.

• If he taps the side of his head, laughs and says something about his brain not working properly, he is using this to cover up the fact that he does not know the answer or he is confused. In these circumstances, offer him a break or change the line of questioning.


application for measures to assist in the trial
Application for ”measures to assist” in the trial.

Involves a thorough and detailed:-


problem solving strategies

framework for action

(i) identification of Measures to Assist

(ii) identification of Special Measures (YJ&CEA).


application for measures to assist in the trial26
Application for ”measures to assist” in the trial.

Argue why they are needed compared

to "I'll apply because you have a

intellectual disability":

 assumptions – is the special measure the necessary/appropriate one?

 choice,

 check out with or ask the witness.


special measures or additional measures to assist its about a
Special Measures orAdditional Measures to Assist?Its about a….

Its about a:

Person Centred Vs. Process Centred

Approach Approach

I never said I wanted I got you that …

that, Vs. why didn't it work?

I said I wanted this!


closure work
Closure Work?
  • C.I.C.A.? Civil action?
  • It’s goodbye to Witness Services.
  • It’s goodbye to the court room.
  • It’s goodbye to the court building.
  • Some reminiscing about change.
  • It’s goodbye to Mark.


  • It’s back to my life now.
  • Internal “lessons learnt” review.

(Future contact?)


so remember
So remember,

It is the individual witness who shapes the profile,

not vice versa.


The profile is used to change or affect the

Criminal Justice system, with particular

reference to assumptions held by it.


The profile, when drafted, is a distillate of the

support and preparation process,

not an end to itself.


The best person to produce the Witness Profile

is the person doing the preparation work.


The process is a dynamic one. The profile becomes

a “live” piece of work that develops

as the person responds to being a witness.




Contact details:Mark Pathak – Social workerInvestigations Support Unit

(CitySafe Strategy Business Unit)

Liverpool City Council

Tel: - 0151-233-4987