Justice Minister David Ford has launched new pilot schemes to help vulnerable victims, witnesses and defendants to communicate more effectively when giving evidence.
Registered intermediaries are being introduced to help communication in the most serious cases during the police investigation and at trial between the witness/defendant and others.
Mr Ford said: “I am committed to improving access to justice for everyone and the launch of the registered intermediary pilot schemes for both vulnerable witnesses and defendants will assist those who previously may not have had their voices heard.
“In some cases a registered intermediary could make the difference between a case getting to court or not. For the accused it would mean that they are able to participate effectively as a witness giving evidence.
“These formal schemes are new to Northern Ireland, and for the accused will be unique within the UK. They are an important step forward in facilitating effective communication, improving access to justice and securing greater inclusion for some of the most vulnerable people in our society. I welcome the support of the relevant criminal justice agencies and practitioners in taking these pilot schemes forward.”