Thank you to everyone who attended our recent Spring Conference either in-person or virtually.

We were fortunate to partner with City, University of London, which kindly hosted the event.

TIC members were able to meet referrers, fellow intermediaries and other professionals working in the Justice system and many useful discussions were had on the fringe of the main conference presentations.

There was unanimous agreement that there is huge value in coming together in person, sharing ideas and having the opportunity to communicate with the referrers we work with and the intermediary community in general. We hope that online attendees also benefited from the convenience of being able to dial in and join us virtually.

Introduction from our Chair

Our current Chair Nicola Lewis opened the conference with a warm welcome to all attendees.

Nicola shared some background information about the work intermediaries do and explained a little more about what makes TIC the specialists in intermediary service provision.

Communication Vulnerability

Louise Engers, one of TIC’s intermediaries and a highly experienced Speech and Language Therapist, spoke about vulnerability, in particular communication vulnerability, and went through the different areas of communication that can be impaired and which affect people’s ability to have fair access to Justice.

Louise spoke about attention, listening and concentration, receptive language or understanding, expressive language and speech, pragmatic communication, and literacy.

She shared real case examples of where impairments in each of these areas has affected a person’s ability to understand and be understood within the Justice system. Louise spoke about what you can expect from an intermediary assessment and what should be contained within an intermediary report. She discussed why early identification of need is important and why referral for an intermediary assessment as soon as possible is beneficial for everyone, but, in particular, the person with vulnerabilities.

The importance of early intervention

Jane Hinton has been an intermediary for 6 years, having worked in specialist education for the previous 30 years.

Jane talked us through her evidence-based analysis relating to pre-trial conferences in criminal court. She discussed the use of early intervention and why such conferences can be so valuable in terms of working effectively with vulnerable people and in saving costs for HMCTS and the public purse.

Low technology communication aids

Tina Pereira PhD has worked as an intermediary for 17 years and is currently also involved in research relating to vulnerable individuals in the Justice System. She previously worked as a specialist speech and language therapist with a specialism in Learning Disability and is passionate about using alternate and augmentative communication with those who struggle to understand and communicate using speech alone. 

Tina shared her wealth of knowledge relating to low technology communication aids at the conference. She discussed why aids should be used and the aspects of aid use that intermediaries consider, in selecting, introducing and managing aids in court.

Tina animated her presentation with anonymised real case studies and showed us examples of re-created aids used in family and criminal courts. The careful management of visual support for vulnerable people is evidently a cornerstone of the work we do.

Poster presentations

A huge thank you to members who produced a vast array of Poster Presentations and who were available to talk through the key points with attendees and which we scrolled through for online attendees in the lunch break.

Conference Learning Points: A Summary

We spoke with social workers about the difficulties which result from the lack of intermediaries in pre-proceedings stages and TIC will be considering what support it could offer to Local Authorities in this respect.

Both intermediaries and social workers consider that earlier interventions could keep parents out of court and children at home at best. Presently, there is a concern that it is only when parents arrive in court that they finally understand what is going on and why, but they are unable to meet the timescales required for the child, to turn things around at that stage. It is simply too late in many cases.

We spoke with barristers about suspect interviews, and the work that needs to be done to get communication support in place for vulnerable suspects. An aspiration to increase the early intervention of intermediary assistance in suspect interviews was shared by many professionals, including criminal barristers and MOJ personnel. We plan to research and publish on this area of need.

Our presentations and the many interesting conversations we had with attendees from the Ministry of Justice shone a light on the work we do and increased the understanding of the role of the intermediary. Feedback from the MOJ attendees was positive.

Solicitor referrers who did not know TIC welcomed our values and our approach to working with service users: the aim for consistency and our approach based on integrity, not profit.

We had many regular referrers who enjoyed learning more about how we work with their clients and who spoke highly of our members working with them regularly in their region.

We were really pleased to connect with an associate professor of law from Seoul National University School of Law and we hope we can support any of her ongoing research/interest in aspects of intermediary work.

Many of our registered intermediary colleagues were impressed by the supportive collegiate member community that is TIC and the fact that we are a not-for-profit company working with integrity and in a socially responsible way, towards fair access to justice. Many of them discussed our training and recruiting process with us and we look forward to working with them more closely.

We hope we have persuaded some of you to join us! You told us that the presentations were useful in supporting your professional practice working with witnesses in the criminal courts and we are pleased to share the expertise offered by our intermediaries.

Similarly, we spoke to other Managed Service Providers working under the HMCTS contract who welcomed our approach to sharing information. The Aspire employees who attended enjoyed learning more about the work we do and again we are open to sharing learning to improve practice across the MOJ contract.

Some of the things you told us

“The conference was well organised and very professional. All the speakers gave interesting, insightful and detailed presentations and came across as extremely knowledgeable and highly skilled professionals.”

“The talks given throughout the conference were really informative; I particularly enjoyed learning about assessing and understanding the different elements of communication with reference to real-life examples. This was really eye-opening and thought-provoking, and enabled me to comprehend the enormous breadth of communication difficulties that exist within our justice system. The day also provided a wonderful opportunity to connect with other professionals and learn from each other’s personal experiences.”

And from TIC members:

“Lots of positive feedback. Attendees said it was great to hear from actual intermediaries who do the job rather than other people talking about us.”

“Well done to the presenters who managed to totally nail what TIC is all about.”

Thanks so much to everyone who came to our first TIC Conference, who presented and those who spoke with us and shared their passion for fair access to justice and for creating a level playing field for people with communication impairments.

If you would like to receive our newsletters or find out more about the work of TIC, email: [email protected]

Keep an eye out for news about further events and next year’s TIC Conference.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This field is required.

This field is required.