The sheer volume of matters coming before the courts often places considerable strain at various points within the Family Court system. One recurring issue which was identified as problematic both nationally and regionally was the availability of expert witnesses. The lack of a co-ordinated system of managing information relating to expert witnesses was resulting in delays in the vital assessment stage of proceedings which impacted on the speed at which decisions could be made and thus ultimately had implications for the well-being of children and young people.
There was no system, regionally or nationally, for managing information relating to expert witnesses in terms of validating their expertise and monitoring their availability. In this sense, the project had both a social and an economic impact, because the assignment of appropriately qualified expert witnesses was improved and the speed of the judicial process was increased, thereby decreasing cost to the public purse.
Prof. Billington and The Digital Humanities Institute worked closely with Her Honour Judge de Hass and the Merseyside Family Justice Council to develop a secure, on-line system for managing information relating to Expert Witnesses (EWs – psychologists). This project drew upon the subject expertise of the project PI and the information management expertise of the HRI in order to address the methodological and practical issues which are pre-requisites to implementing such a system. The information does not of course include sensitive data relating to specific cases or participants.
Duration: 1st February 2010 – 31st July 2010
- Prof. Tom Billington (PI – School of Education, University of Sheffield)
- Michael Pidd (The Digital Humanities Institute)