Developing a professional identity in a new work environment: the views of defendant intermediaries working in the criminal courts

Brendan O'Mahony, Jane Creaton, Kevin Smith, Becky Milne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Purpose
The purpose of this paper is to find out how intermediaries interpret their role working with vulnerable defendants at court.
Design/methodology/approach
In this study six intermediaries who have worked with defendants were interviewed using a semi-structured interview and the interview transcripts were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis.
Findings
Intermediaries appeared to be trying to make sense of their developing identities as professionals in the courtroom and this theme is conceptualised through social identity complexity theory.
Practical implications
Health and care professionals undertaking a new function in the criminal justice sector should receive training about the psychological processes underlying developing professional identities. Such training should reduce the cognitive load when they work in the new environment and failure to undertake this training may lead to less efficient practice. Gaining an understanding of their professional positioning within the court environment may assist with retention of intermediaries in this new role.
Originality/value
This is the first published study where intermediaries have been interviewed about their experiences with defendants. Recommendations are made including the requirement for additional training for intermediaries to understand the underlying psychological processes and conflicts they may experience when working with defendant cases.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-166
Journal The Journal of Forensic Practice
Volume18
Issue number2
Early online date27 Apr 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016

Keywords

  • Identity
  • Vulnerability
  • Court
  • Intermediaries
  • Cross-examination
  • Defendants

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