Dr Mary-Teresa Deignan and Sian Beaven, working with Tom Middleton at the General Dental Council delivered an all-day workshop to a group of GDC prosecutors on the subject of Vulnerable Witnesses, with a focus on advocacy.
Vulnerable Witness Training is compulsory for all criminal lawyers undertaking legally aided work on cases involving sexual offences, and adapting practices of advocacy to allow vulnerable witnesses to give their best evidence has become standard in criminal courts.
The workshop demonstrated how these techniques can be utilised in the regulatory/professional disciplinary setting, and how best practice can and should be adopted. The exercises sought to provide guidance to prosecutors, being alert to different vulnerabilities and how to safeguard vulnerable witnesses from inappropriate questioning styles. The workshop stimulated lively discussion about the use of the preliminary meeting in the style of a criminal ‘ground rules’ hearing and gave participants the opportunity to adapt their usual advocacy style in line with these principles.