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Improving the reliability of child witness testimony in court : the importance of focusing on questioning techniques

journal contribution
posted on 2005-07-01, 00:00 authored by Martine Powell
Considerable discussion during recent years has focused on ways to increase the reliability of child witness evidence, and reduce the negative impact of the courtroom environment on children's credibility and their psychological well-being. A large proportion of this discussion has focused on removing child witnesses from the courtroom and developing alternative arrangements by which children can give evidence (e.g., videotaped statements used as evidence-in-chief, closed-circuit television). There is no doubt that these arrangements have played a major role in reducing children's feelings of uncertainty and intimidation, and they have increased the ability of children 10 tell their stories and answer questions reliably (Cashmore 2002; Eastwood & Patton 2002). However, there are many
other factors. apart from the physical environment in which a child's evidence is elicited, that impact on the quality and accuracy of a child witness's evidence.

This contemporary comment focuses on one of the most important factors that impacts on the quality and accuracy of a child's evidence; the questioning techniques. It offers four recommendations for improving the reliability of child witness evidence in court. along with justifications for these recommendations and suggestions for bow these recommendations might be implemented. Each suggestion focuses on the impact of questioning techniques, from pre-trial questioning to questioning during the trial. It does not focus on the rules of evidence regarding child statements or the physical environment in which children's evidence is elicited.

History

Journal

Current issues in criminal justice

Volume

17

Issue

1

Pagination

137 - 143

Publisher

Institute of Criminology, University of Sydney

Location

Sydney, N.S.W.

ISSN

1034-5329

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

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