Vicarious Traumatisation as a Consequence of Jury Service



Abstract: Recent research on past-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has highlighted the adverse consequences of trauma, not just for victims, but also for those who interact with them: vicarious traumatisation. British citizens are required to sit on juries, where they may be exposed to gruesome exhibits and harrowing testimony: can such experiences also lead to vicarious traumatisation? Previous studies have demonstrated that some jurors do suffer both short- and longer-term trauma from jury service, both from hearing evidence and deliberation in the jury room. A first exploratory survey of British jurors confirms that a minority of jurors are so affected. The article calls for modifications to the current arbitrary allocation of jurors and for greater provision of information and guidance to minimise the negative consequences of an essential civic duty.