Child witnesses and the legal process

Jane Morgan, John Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Both the Children Act 1989 and the Criminal Justice Act 1991 anticipate the appearance of children in court as witnesses. However, there is a marked difference in the support given to such children under the civil and criminal processes. In civil child protection proceedings the guardian ad litem plays an important role in protecting the welfare of the child both before and during a court hearing. Although some changes have been made in the criminal process to accommodate the special needs of children, they fall short of the provisions made in civil proceedings. Most notably there is no individual having direct responsibility for the child's welfare and best interests. Notwithstanding the differences between the civil and criminal procedures, in particular the welfare principle in the Children Act 1989, the experience of the civil law may be adapted to meet the needs of child witnesses in criminal cases without compromising the rights of the accused. This article questions whether the recent changes in the criminal process have gone far enough and proposes greater help for children before and during their court appearance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)484-496
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Social Welfare and Family Law
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 01 Nov 1992


Dive into the research topics of 'Child witnesses and the legal process'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this