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 focused on the seven-week trial concerning the murder of Becky Watts that took place in September 2015 after her death earlier that year. In what is a very rare occurrence, a member of the jury has spoken out to warn of the traumatic effects of being exposed to the detailed testimonies and evidence involved in such a trial.
The juror, identified only as Rebecca to protect anonymity, 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.
Kate Nowlan, drawing on her experience at CiC supporting police officers, NHS staff, NGO workers and media organisations, added that she is worried for those on jury service and that what is currently in place is not good enough.
“I think that 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.”
There is some research ongoing into the traumatic stress experienced by jurors. Support 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 however, we are clearly falling short. A spokesperson for the Criminal Bar Association (CBA) added as part of the same story:
“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 are keen to continue the discussion on this important topic and offer our advice and expertise to any organisation, government or otherwise, looking to support Jurors in the vital role they serve.
For more information please contact us today or call 020 7937 6224