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The virtual courtroom: a view of justice. Project to prepare witnesses or victims with learning disabilities to give evidence

By P. Cooke, A. Laczny, D.J. Brown and J. Francik


With the advent of 'The Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999' passed by Parliament in August 1999, vulnerable witnesses can for the first time give evidence to the court with the support of 'special measures'. People with a learning disability fall into the category of vulnerable witnesses, and the purpose of this paper is to describe the development of the virtual courtroom, a virtual reality (VR) and multimedia based training platform to prepare this group of people for such an eventuality. Method: A user-centred design methodology was adopted, with a user group being formed of students and adults with learning disabilities. This group, working together with facilitators, experts on the new act, and experienced designers of VR based training systems, designed and implemented the virtual courtroom. Results: The virtual courtroom model has been produced using the Realimation Virtual Reality software tool. The next stage of the project is to design and develop three multimedia-based scenarios showing a variety of situations in which a person with a learning disability could give evidence in court. Conclusion: One of the recommendations in the 'Speaking up for justice' report, suggested that the Home Office develop further material to assist vulnerable witnesses to prepare for their attendance at court. The virtual courtroom provides one of the first and most innovative of such solutions

Topics: law
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Year: 2002
DOI identifier: 10.1080/09638280110111414
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