The Compellability Rule in England and Wales: Support for the Spouse of the Defendant

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Spouses, for a variety of reasons, struggle to give evidence
against their spouse in criminal proceedings. A woman’s willingness to
testify against her spouse or civil partner is not based on the compellability
provisions in PACE, but a personal choice of whether she is prepared to
testify against her spouse. To assist her, she (as victim and witness) must be
adequately supported (emotionally or psychologically) so that she becomes
a resilient participant of the criminal justice system and thus
provides best evidence in court. A collective and coordinated effort of
practitioners, police, support agencies, including the judiciary is essential
and there is a need for them to be aware of the special needs of different
types of vulnerable witnesses, different forms of support, therapies and
counselling strategies available in their decision-making. This article will
draw upon findings of a pilot research study undertaken in 2009 to
examine the issue of support for victims and witnesses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)310-324
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Criminal Law
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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