The use of intermediaries (communication specialists) at Parole Board oral hearings in England and Wales

Brendan O'Mahony*, Rebecca Milne, Kevin Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Purpose - The purpose of this paper was to find out what role intermediaries have in facilitating communication with victims and prisoners at Parole Board oral hearings.

Design / methodology / approach - A survey was designed and administered to thirty-nine Parole Board members to find out their perceptions of, and experiences with, the use of intermediaries. Frequency tables and verbatim quotations are used to report the results.

Findings - Overall, participants had not experienced any use of intermediaries with victims or family members presenting victim personal statements at an oral hearing. Further, there had been limited use of intermediaries for prisoners attending oral hearings. Nevertheless, there was a good recognition of a range of communication needs that a prisoner might present with at a hearing. There was also general support for the use of intermediaries with some caution about possible delays to procedural fairness.

Originality/value - This is the first published paper examining the role of intermediaries at Parole Board oral hearings. It builds on the evidence base of the use of intermediaries in other criminal justice contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-143
Number of pages15
Journal The Journal of Forensic Practice
Volume26
Issue number2
Early online date24 May 2024
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2024

Keywords

  • Parole Board
  • vulnerable prisoners
  • victim personal statements
  • oral hearings
  • intermediaries
  • communication support

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