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

Journal article


Spruin, L., Ozcakir 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. https://doi.org/10.1177/1057567719827063
AuthorsSpruin, L., Ozcakir Mozova, K., Franz, A., Mitchell, S., Fernandez, A., Dempster, T. and Holt, N.
Abstract

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.

KeywordsTherapy do; criminal justice; court; witness support
Year2019
JournalInternational Criminal Justice Review
PublisherSAGE
ISSN1057-5677
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1177/1057567719827063
Publication dates
Online06 Feb 2019
Publication process dates
Deposited10 Jan 2019
Accepted07 Jan 2019
Accepted author manuscript
Output statusPublished
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https://repository.canterbury.ac.uk/item/88y32/the-use-of-therapy-dogs-to-support-court-users-in-the-waiting-room

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