Are you aware that jurors serving in trials in the UK are currently getting insufficient support? Kate Nowlan, CiC’s CEO, was recently featured in the national news as an expert on trauma consulted for a story on the potential traumatic stress experienced by individuals on a jury.
The story focussed on the seven-week trial concerning the murder of Becky Watts that took place in September 2015 after her death earlier that year.
‘Rebecca’, a juror on the Becky Watts trial, says that she was “forced to look at and absorb harrowing and graphic details of Becky Watts’ murder” – all in the name of her civic duty as a British citizen. As she was not allowed to discuss the trial with anyone, Rebecca was left with no way to debrief and the only support offered to those on the jury was the telephone number of the Samaritans.
At CiC we have vast experience supporting police officers, NHS staff, NGO workers and media organisations in traumatic environment. Kate joined the conversation to add that she is worried for those on jury service and that what is currently in place is not good enough.
“The answer is very simple there are such simple things one can do like resilience and well-being training, they are very, very easy to put in place, not expensive, and I think the follow-up particularly after extremely difficult cases is absolutely crucial.”
The kind of support CiC would recommend and offer has long been in place in The United States and in Canada, the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights is currently gathering evidence from experts for its study into what it calls ‘Counselling and Other Mental Health Supports for Jurors’.
In the UK we are clearly year behind and currently falling short, a spokesperson for the Criminal Bar Association has said:
“Assistance available for the judiciary and court staff is often inadequate. No specialist help is provided by the criminal justice system for jurors. Court staff are not given training to recognise signs of trauma in jurors, and there is a risk that jurors who are being deeply affected by their task may fall through the net.”
CiC has a wealth of experience in supporting employees and voluntary workers in traumatic situations. We have witnessed the negative effects this can have on individuals and whole organisations. However, we have also seen the positive effect even the most basic stress, trauma and resilience training can have in such environments.
This recent story highlights how easy it is for a whole group of people, such as jurors, to go unsupported simply because no-one took the time to consider the stress and trauma they may be experiencing.
An exercise we like to encourage in all organisations is to take that time to consider who in your workplace is vulnerable to stress and trauma – try and look wider than your employee base and consider contractors, volunteers and seasonal staff.
Are you really doing all you can to acknowledge the positions they are in and the potential for traumatisation? Following that, what is in place to support these individuals and is it enough?
If the answer is no then we would be happy to help you put in place the appropriate support and even simply point you in the direction of some free resources that can start the difficult conversations around stress and trauma within your workplace environment.
Please get in touch if you have any questions, or contact us directly on 020 7937 6224.