Communication and Cross-Examination in Court For Children and Adults with Intellectual Disabilities: a systematic review,

Joanne Morrison, Rachel Forrester-Jones, Jill Bradshaw, Glynis Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting abstractpeer-review


Introduction: Courts in England, Wales and Northern Ireland haveidentified children and adults with intellectual disabilities (ID) as vulnerable witnesses. The call from the English Court of Appeal is for ad-vocates to adjust questioning during crossexamination according toindividual needs, but what do we know of these needs? This review systematically examined previous empirical studies with the aim of delineating the identified communication needs of children and adults with ID during cross-examination.

Methods: A comprehensive search of databases was carried out for papers that included words relating to three key search areas: intellectual disability, communication and court.

Results: A range of communication challenges were highlighted including suggestibility to leading questions and negative feedback, acquiescence, accuracy and understanding of court language. In addition, a number of influencing factors were identified including age, IQ level, question styles used, recall memory and delays.

Implications: This review has highlighted the need for further research in some key areas: confabulation, level of ability and performance indication, using multiple-choice questions for enhanced recall and accuracy, witness understanding of court language and research that takes into consideration other factors beyond IQ levels. The majority of papers included in the review use experimental methodology.There is a dearth of research of actual court cases and examination of factors pertaining to the court process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)709-709
Number of pages1
JournalJournal of Intellectual Disability Research
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jun 2019
EventInternational Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IASSID) World Congress, Glasgow, UK 6-9 Aug 2019: IASSID Future4All - Scottish Event Campus (SEC) Glasgow, Glasgow, UK United Kingdom
Duration: 6 Aug 20199 Aug 2019


  • communication
  • vulnerable witness
  • Intellectual disability
  • learning disability


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