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Welcome to the Achieving Best Evidence - Vulnerable and Intimidated Adults Knowledge Bank. 

In the ABE - Vulnerable and Intimidated Adults Knowledge Bank you can access excerpts from the course, related articles and media that support the ABE Training.  If you have any questions or need advice regarding ABE, Video Recorded Interviews and practice, contact us and we shall do pour best to assist. 

Witnesses With Learning Disabilities:  

"A state of arrested or incomplete development of mind" 
This appears to include all people with a learning disability as long as it is caused before the mind is completely developed. Therefore, this refers any person whose learning disability is a result of either genetics, an accident, a disease, or an environment before or shortly after birth. It would not refer to someone, for instance, who has suffered a brain injury during adulthood. 
"Severe impairment of intelligence" 
The measurement of intelligence is made using the IQ Test; an assessment using a battery of standardised tests to evaluate a person's ability to think and reason. It is not a measure of knowledge. The average IQ in the UK is about 100. 
"Severe impairment of social functioning" 
This refers to matters such as a person’s ability to manage the activities of daily living and generally look after themselves and cope across all domains of their lives. It may also involve a consideration of the individual’s ability to relate meaningfully to other people. 
Degrees of Learning Disability: 
Health and Social Care professionals use IQ testing to identify the presence and degree of a learning disability: 
It should not be seen as the only method of identifying the presence of learning disability in an individual and the language associated with IQ scoring is now considered by many, particularly within the learning disabled community, to be outdated. Nevertheless, these are the terms that we are likely to encounter within the legal system. 
The average IQ is 100 and a test result of below 70 is generally considered to indicate a formal learning disability. 
70-80 borderline learning disability. 
50 -70 mild learning disability. 
35 - 50 moderate learning disability. 
20 - 35 severe learning disability. 
Below 20 profound learning disability. 
But it's not all about IQ and cognition - people develop socially and emotionally with a rich variety of life experiences and relationships. Watch this video from the charity Mencap to hear from people with learning disabilities and their families discuss what a learning disability means to them. 
The following websites are charities that support children, adults and their families, and carers affected by learning disabilities and are great sources of advice, information and assistance in planning and undertaking ABE Interviews: 

Understand the role of the Intermediary in facilitating communication with adults who have special needs: 

"Sally Can Dance" is a video produces by the CJS that describes and explains what the roles and skills of an Intermediary are and how they might assist an ABE Interview and Court Proceedings. 

Proper Prior Planning... 

All to often Video Recorded Interviews of children that have been subjected to serious sexual violence are not doing what they set out to do - provide the Courts with the Best Evidence. In most cases this is because investigators have failed to adhere to the guidance and failed to plan the interviews properly. 
The planning information should be used to: 
Set the objectives for the interview. 
Determine the techniques used within the phased interview. 
The means by which the interview is to be recorded. 
Who should conduct the interview and if anybody else should be present (including social support for the witness). 
If anybody should monitor the interview (e.g. investigating officer, supervising officer, specialist/interview adviser, etc.) and who will operate the equipment. 
The location of the interview. 
The timing of the interview. 
The duration of the interview (including pace, breaks and the possibility of more than one session). 
What is likely to happen after the interview. 

What are the phases of the Interview? 

Aids to Communication: 

The purpose of a communication aid is to support and facilitate communication. 
People use communication aids all the time in various situations, e.g. taking notes into a meeting, drawing a map while giving someone directions, and hand gestures to illustrate or emphasise a point. 
In order to Achieve Best Evidence, a witness needs to be enabled to give a complete, coherent and accurate account. 
Investigators must understand how the witness will use their communication aids and plan their interview accordingly. Inappropriate questions or misuse of aids can undermine the interview by causing confusion and misunderstanding. 
For examples of communication aids in the Criminal Justice System and how they can assist both the interview and proceedings, click the button below to the Advocates Gateway. 

Witnesses With Autism Spectrum Disorders: 

A diagnosis of autism will usually be determined by a constellation of characteristics. This usually means three or more of the following: 
Onset before the age of 36 months: Parents are often aware of difficulties and strangeness in behaviour at a very early age, but the variation in developmental stages makes it difficult to isolate Autism as the cause. 
Impairment of Social Interaction: Aloofness and indifference to other people, passive acceptance of social contact, odd or inappropriate repetitive approaches. 
Impairment of Communication: Serious delays/absence of comprehension and expression, lack of appreciation of social uses of communication, lack of understanding that language conveys communication to others, poor comprehension of body language and intonation, lack of the use of gestures or intonation to convey information, concrete understanding and use of speech (literal interpretation and use). 
Impairment of imagination: Inability to play imaginatively, tendency to select minor aspects of things in the environment, stereotyped play, lack of understanding of literature (e.g. difficulties in relating to fictional rather than factual material). 
Repetitive stereotyped activities: These may often be pervasive and extremely resistant to change. 
The debate among developmental psychologists over the definition of Autism focuses on three main issues: 
Impairment of affective (emotional) response: Because of an innate inability to become emotionally engaged with others, the autistic person does not receive in infancy the necessary social experiences to develop the appropriate thinking structures for understanding. 
Primary Cognitive Impairment: The triad of impairments arise out of the autistic person’s inability to “mind read”, i.e. to understand that other people have their own mind state and thinking patterns which relate to their behaviour (See notes on the Theory of Mind Hypothesis). 
Failure in the development of language, communication and social skills: People with autism do not understand that communication and language exist for the exchange of information. The use of language is inextricably linked to our understanding of minds. 
Adapted from Cooper M (1997) 


Download The Video Interview Aide Memoir  

Provision of Therapy for Vulnerable and Intimidated Witnesses Prior to Trial: 

Whether a vulnerable or intimidated witness should receive therapy before the criminal trial is not a decision for the Police or The Crown Prosecution Service. Such decisions can only be taken by the vulnerable or intimidated witness, in conjunction with the professionals from the agencies providing service to the witness. 
The best interests of the vulnerable or intimidated witness are the paramount consideration in decisions about the provision of therapy before the criminal trial. In determining what is in the best interests of the vulnerable or intimidated witness, it will be essential to consider the wishes and feelings of the witness and, where appropriate, of those who are emotionally significant to the witness. 
The report 'Speaking Up For Justice' produced by an Inter-Departmental Working Group on the treatment of vulnerable or intimidated witnesses, said that "vulnerable or intimidated witnesses should not be denied the emotional support and counselling they may need both before and after the trial,". In response to the The Department of Health, The Crown Prosecution Service and the Home Office worked together to produce practice guidance. 

Criminal Offences under the Mental Capacity Act:  Ill-treatment or wilful neglect (Mental Capacity Act, Section 44; Code of Practice, Chapter 14).  This may apply to the following: People who have the care of a person who lacks capacity. An attorney acting under a Lasting Power of Attorney or Enduring Power of Attorney. A deputy appointed by the Court.  Allegations of offences may be made to the Police or the Office of the Public Guardian. They can also be dealt with under Adult Protection Procedures (via Adult Services in Social Services Departments). The penalty for these criminal offences may be a fine and/or a sentence of imprisonment for up to five years. 

Safeguarding Elders: 

Over 500,000 older people are abused in the UK each year. 
Men and women may be victimised but the majority of victims are women over the age of 70 (Source: Action on Elder Abuse). Abuse can take many forms including physical, emotional, psychological, sexual, financial abuse and neglect. 
The context is as varied as the abuse and the perpetrators can be informal or paid carers, family, neighbours, professionals, service providers or strangers. 

Duties of the Local Authority: 

There are three specific legal duties in the Care Act 2014: 
1) A local authority has a duty to ‘make inquiries’ where there is 
‘reasonable cause’ to suspect an adult with care and support needs 
is being abused or neglected, or is at risk of being abused or 
neglected (section 42). 
2) Each Local Authority must set up a ‘Safeguarding Adults Board’, 
which is a multi-agency body to help and protect adults in its area 
(section 43). 
3) Safeguarding Adult Boards have a duty to arrange for case 
reviews where there has been a serious safeguarding incident 
(section 44). 
The objectives of an inquiry into abuse or neglect are to: 
Establish facts. 
Ascertain the person’s views and wishes. 
Assess their need for protection, support and redress and how they might be met. 
Protect them from abuse and neglect in accordance with their wishes. 
Make decisions about follow-up action to be taken with regard to the person or organisation responsible for the abuse or neglect. 
Enable the person to achieve resolution and recovery. 

Case Examples of Elder Abuse: 

Physical Abuse:  
Four nursing home staff were sentenced for abuse of residents. The court was told one man had his foot stamped on deliberately and another was nearly tipped out of his wheelchair. The vulnerable victims were also pelted with bean bags and balls at their heads "for entertainment". The offences related to eight victims; seven men and one woman, all aged in their 70s or 80s, with the eldest aged 85 (Source: BBC). 
Financial Abuse: 
A 48 year-old man from Coventry pleaded guilty to fraud by abusing his position of power of attorney to steal almost £57,000 from a 71-year-old woman at Warwick Crown Court, and was jailed for 16 months. His victim had suffered a brain injury in 2013, as a result of which four people, including this offender, were appointed to have power of attorney over her affairs. When the woman, who had the principal role in handling financial matters, had to go into hospital in 2014, he was left in control of the victim’s current and savings accounts. Between February and December 2014, he made a large number of transfers out of the accounts, obtained a second bank card in his own name and drained the pensioner’s life savings – obtaining £24,200 in over-the-counter withdrawals, and a further £32,730 from cash-points (Source: The Coventry Observer). 
Eight care-home workers, from the cleaner to the owner, wilfully neglected a vulnerable and elderly dementia patient in a room “frankly not fit for human habitation”, a court has heard. Jurors were told that a 79-year-old widower who could not care for himself, was left in “abject squalor and filth” by staff at a Bradford nursing home. He lived in urine-soaked clothes, in a filthy bedroom containing a chair covered in dry faeces and a floor so dirty that visitors’ feet stuck to it, Bradford crown court heard (Source: The Guardian). 
Physical Abuse: 
A former care assistant and her partner physically abused, took advantage of, and moved into an elderly and frail Retford man's home against his wishes, a court heard. The pair moved themselves into the elderly man's home without permission, used drugs in both the property and the communal areas of the flats and verbally abused other residents who lived in the complex. The court heard they also vandalised communal areas of the flats, (Source: The Retford Times). 

Memory and Recall 

On the training course, we did some experimenting with memory and how suggestive questions can influence what the witness thinks they saw. This video to your right is a TED Lecture by Elizabeth Loftus, one of the world's leading experts in false memories and how they occur. This fascinating lecture builds on the discussions in the ABE Vulnerable and Intimidated Adults training about memory, questions and suggestibility. 
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