One step forward and two steps back? The ′20 Principles′ for questioning vulnerable witnesses and the lack of an evidence-based approach

November 14, 2018

In England and Wales, particular attention has been devoted to the presentation and questioning of vulnerable witnesses, usually children.  This led to the development of “The 20 Principles of Questioning,” a protocol for preparing and examining such witnesses.

This article assesses the 20 principles to show which are supported by science, which have inadequate research to support them, and which are actually contrary to research findings.  In doing so, the article serves at least two purposes – showing what a well-intended approach to vulnerable witness protection looks like and simultaneously proving that not all good intentions are actually wise or helpful.  It is critical reading for any advocate who intends to offer a child witness.