Applied Cognitive Psychology

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Volume 33 Issue 2 (March 2019), Pages 149-322

Examining children in English High Courts with and without implementation of reforms authorized in Section 28 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act (pages 252-264)

Summary This study examined whether the implementation of Section 28 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act (1999) improved lawyers' questioning strategies when examining child witnesses in England. The government's Section 28 pilot study involved judges holding Ground Rules Hearings, during which restrictions and limitations were placed on the duration, content, and manner of questions to be asked. Afterwards, children's cross‐examinations were pre‐recorded and later played as part of their evidence at trial. The current study compared cases involving 6‐ to 15‐year‐old alleged victims of sexual abuse in which Section 28 was (n = 43) and was not (n = 44) implemented. Defence lawyers in Section 28 cases asked significantly fewer suggestive questions and more option‐posing questions than defence lawyers in Nonsection 28 cases. Younger children complied more with defence lawyers' suggestive questions. Ground Rules Hearings improved lawyers' questioning strategies, regardless of the case's involvement in the Section 28 pilot study.

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