Methods to evaluate justice practices in eliciting evidence from complainants of child sexual abuse

Jane Goodman-Delahunty, Eunro Lee, Martine B Powell, Nina Westera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

To facilitate evidence-based practice, following implementation of a reform, evaluation of field practice involves rigorous and scientific methods. The present article reviews the methods and implications of 17 studies commissioned by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse to evaluate how alternate measures are being used and how complainants are being questioned about child sexual abuse in Australian criminal justice proceedings. This evaluation used qualitative and quantitative methods to assess the processes and practices applied to manage the witnesses’ psychological distress and vulnerability to elicit more reliable and credible evidence. The topics and areas of interest were stakeholder perceptions and views of the use of alternate measures, factors considered in the processes, and challenges in police interviews and courtroom questioning. Data sources included video recordings of interviews by police and CCTV cross-examinations and trial transcripts supplemented by stakeholder interviews, a survey, and an online experiment.In particular, the evaluation findings highlighted a range of practices based on unsupported assumptions about victim memory and behaviour, judicial instructions to child complainants,cross-examination strategies, judicial interventions, and shortcomings in the quality of video recordings of police pre-interview and CCTV cross-examination. In this article, following are view of the studies, implications of the findings are discussed to inform evidence-based practice and research in eliciting evidence from complainants of child sexual abuse.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-60
Number of pages19
JournalNewcastle Law Review
Volume12
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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