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The use of Intermediaries (communication specialists) at Parole Board oral hearings in England and Wales

O'Mahony, Brendan, Milne, Rebecca and Smith, Kevin (2024) The use of Intermediaries (communication specialists) at Parole Board oral hearings in England and Wales. Journal of Forensic Practice, 26 (2). p. 211. ISSN 2050-8794

Item Type: Article


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to find out what role intermediaries have in facilitating communication with victims and prisoners at Parole Board (PB) oral hearings.

Design/methodology/approach – A survey was designed and administered to 39 PB members to find out their perceptions of, and experiences with, the use of intermediaries. Frequency tables and verbatim quotations are used to report the results.

Findings – Overall, participants had not experienced any use of intermediaries with victims or family members presenting victim personal statements at an oral hearing. Further, there had been limited use of intermediaries for prisoners attending oral hearings. Nevertheless, there was a good recognition of a
range of communication needs that a prisoner might present with at a hearing. There was also general support for the use of intermediaries with some caution about possible delays to procedural fairness.

Practical implications – The early identification of communication support needs for prisoners and victims attending an oral hearing is essential. The PB should raise awareness with the PB Membership about the role of intermediaries. The PB should continue to develop guidance and policy surrounding intermediaries. Prison lawyers and HM Prison and Probation Service may require specialist training in
identifying communication needs in vulnerable prisoners and identifying when a communication specialist might be required for an oral hearing.

Originality/value – To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first published paper examining the role of intermediaries at PB oral hearings. It builds on the evidence base of the use of intermediaries in other criminal justice contexts.

Keywords Intermediaries, Communication support, Oral hearings, Parole Board

Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial.

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More Information

Depositing User: Kev Smith


Item ID: 17793
Identification Number:
ISSN: 2050-8794
Official URL:

Users with ORCIDS

ORCID for Kevin Smith: ORCID iD

Catalogue record

Date Deposited: 26 Jun 2024 08:14
Last Modified: 26 Jun 2024 08:16


Author: Kevin Smith ORCID iD
Author: Brendan O'Mahony
Author: Rebecca Milne

University Divisions

Faculty of Education and Society > School of Social Sciences


Social Sciences > Criminology
Social Sciences

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