Pre-recorded cross-examination under s. 28 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act (YJCEA) 1999 enables "intimidated complainants" in sex offence cases to pre-record their evidence in advance of trial.

"Intimidated complainants" is a legal term used to describe adult victim-survivors of rape and sexual assault. Adult victim-survivors are eligible to apply for special measures, including s. 28, under s. 17(4) of the YJCEA 1999, but the court has discretion on whether to grant them.

Pre-recorded cross-examination was piloted for adult victim-survivors ("intimidated complainants") at three Crown Courts in 2019. However, it was first piloted from 2013 for "vulnerable witnesses" under s. 16 of the YJCEA 1999 - namely children or adults with a physical disability, mental disorder, or learning disability. Hence, prior to the s. 28 pilot for intimidated complainants, adult victim-survivors could only access pre-recorded cross-examination if they were formally classed as "vulnerable" i.e., and had a diagnosed mental disorder, a physical disability or a severe learning disability. 

Though s. 28 is the most far-reaching special measure to be introduced in England and Wales to date, there is very little information about how this procedure operates in practice, particularly in sex offence cases.  Natalie's research focuses on how the s. 28 process is applied to adult victim-survivors in sex offence cases, and the extent to which the s. 28 process differs depending on whether victim-survivors are classed as "intimidated" or "vulnerable" witnesses.

Outputs produced during the course of the Fellowship are designed to inform a range of audiences and stakeholders about the impact of s. 28 and related measures on the treatment and questioning of intimidated complainants and the dynamics of adversarial trial in sex offence cases. To date, Natalie has produced a policy briefing, responded to proposals to reform special measures set out in the Law Commission's Consultation on Evidence in Sex Offence Prosecutions, submitted written evidence to the Justice Committee Inquiry into s. 28, and is producing an information video and related leaflet on special measures for victim-survivors. Selected outputs are available to view by clicking on the project links above.