The use of therapy dogs to support court users in the waiting room

Spruin, E., Mozova, K., Franz, A., Mitchell, S., Fernandez, A., Dempster, T. and Holt, N. (2019) The use of therapy dogs to support court users in the waiting room. International Criminal Justice Review. ISSN 1057-5677.

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The use of animals to support individuals' wellbeing has been documented across a variety of disciplines. It has been over a decade since dogs have also started to be used within the criminal justice setting in America to support vulnerable people, but this practice is not common in the United Kingdom. Globally, empirical evidence to support the benefits of utilising dogs within the criminal justice system is lacking.

The present interdisciplinary study aimed to explore one aspect of the criminal justice journey, the impact a therapy dog can have on UK court users waiting to give evidence at a magistrate's court. 117 court users and 8 court staff were interviewed to explore their perceptions of a therapy dog service offered at a local magistrates’ court. Using thematic analysis, three main themes were discovered: (1) Context of the court environment, (2) Effect of the therapy dog on well-being, and (3) Issues relating to therapy dogs in court waiting areas. Results suggests that therapy dogs have a number of benefits to court users. Long-term, the human-canine interaction positively translates into the court waiting room environment and so it should be further explored, evaluated and then appropriately implemented in the UK’s legal system.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Therapy do; criminal justice; court; witness support
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
K Law
Divisions: Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences > School of Psychology, Politics and Sociology
Depositing User: Dr Liz Spruin
Date Deposited: 10 Jan 2019 13:48
Last Modified: 21 Feb 2019 10:45

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00