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Does Implementation of Reforms Authorised in Section 28 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act Affect the Complexity of the Questions Asked of Young Alleged Victims in Court?


Applied Cognitive Psychology

Published online on


--- - |2 Summary This study examined whether the implementation of Section 28 (S28) of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act (1999) and the introduction of mandatory Ground Rules Hearings reduced the complexity of the questions English lawyers asked when examining child witnesses. This study compared cases with (n = 43) and without (n = 43) the S28 special measures, and involved children aged 6‐15 testifying as alleged victims of sexual abuse. Defense lawyers' questions in the S28 condition comprised fewer words, clauses, false starts, multiple negatives, and temporal and numeric attributes than in the Non‐S28 condition. When questioning younger children, lawyers used fewer words, clauses, references to ‘before/after,’ and passive voice. These results demonstrated that S28 successfully reduced the complexity of the questions, and that lawyers in both conditions partially adjusted the complexity of their questions to accommodate children's developmental capabilities. - Applied Cognitive Psychology, Volume 0, Issue ja, -Not available-.