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Testimony at court: a randomised controlled trial investigating the art and science of persuading witnesses and victims to attend trial

Monnington-Taylor, E; Bowers, K; Streeter Hurle, P; Ward, L; Ruda, S; Sweeney, M; Murray, A; (2019) Testimony at court: a randomised controlled trial investigating the art and science of persuading witnesses and victims to attend trial. Crime Science , 8 , Article 10. 10.1186/s40163-019-0104-1. Green open access

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Abstract

The presence of civilian witnesses and victims in court is central to the effective operation of the criminal justice system. However, there is evidence of significant non-attendance which can result in ineffective and cracked trials. To address this, West Midlands Police Witness Care Unit and the Behavioural Insights Team designed an intervention using behavioural insight principles consisting of (1) a new conversation guide for Witness Care Officers (WCOs); (2) a redesigned ‘Warning Letter’ confirming details of the proceedings; and (3) a new reminder call and SMS. The impact of the new approach was evaluated through a randomised controlled trial in which 36 WCOs were randomly assigned to either “business as usual” (control) or treatment. The evaluation used an intention-to-treat design with implementation guided and encouraged at several points. Subgroup analysis was undertaken to explore whether differential effects were seen for domestic violence cases or between those that were victims and witnesses. Results indicated that the treatment approach was directionally positive in all cases, but that the increase in attendance was not statistically significant. This is in line with findings of other similar research in this area.

Type: Article
Title: Testimony at court: a randomised controlled trial investigating the art and science of persuading witnesses and victims to attend trial
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1186/s40163-019-0104-1
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1186/s40163-019-0104-1
Language: English
Additional information: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/ publicdomain/zero/ 1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Security and Crime Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10083434
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