Evidence Sessions FAQs

An evidence session is your chance to speak to the Inquiry team in a safe environment about your experiences. You may share any information you feel is relevant to the Inquiry. We will not interrogate you during evidence sessions or put you on the spot; instead, this is an opportunity for your voice to be heard, and for us to learn from you.

We are currently speaking to families, carers and friends of those who’ve lost their lives, as well as those who experienced inpatient care in Essex Mental Health Trusts between 2000-2020. We will then be inviting staff, organisations, relevant professionals and expert witnesses to attend evidence sessions.

Below we have provided answers to potential questions you might have, grouped in the following categories:

  • Booking your session
  • At your session
  • After your session

Booking your session

How do I book an evidence session?

To book an evidence session please contact the Inquiry team. You can do so by:

  • Filling out our webform
  • Sending us an email: contact@emhii.org.uk
  • Leaving us a voicemail: 0207 972 3500
  • Or writing to us by post: EMHII, PO Box 78136, London SW1P 9WW

When you contact us please leave your name, preferred contact details, and any preference for time of day that we contact you. Someone from the Inquiry team will get back to you as soon as we can to book your session.

Where will evidence sessions take place?

The Inquiry is offering in-person evidence sessions in both London and Chelmsford (Essex), you are welcome to choose your preferred location.

Evidence sessions will take place in a welcoming and private environment. They will not take place in formal court rooms.

Will I be able to bring someone to support me at my evidence session?

Yes, you can bring someone along to support you. This could be a family member, friend, or carer.

Please let us know in advance who will be attending the session.

Please also see FAQ below, “What will happen to my evidence?”.

I have additional needs, will the Inquiry support me to attend an evidence session?

Yes, we will consider any requests made for adjustments and will try to accommodate your needs.

Adjustments may include needing an interpreter, wheelchair accessibility, or holding sessions virtually or by telephone. We want to hear from everybody who would like to give evidence and will do all we can to enable this.

Shortly after you send your webform or contact the Inquiry to request a session, a member of the Inquiry team will be in touch to discuss what adjustments you specifically require. If you have any questions before submitting a form, please contact the team directly via email at contact@emhii.org.uk or leave a voicemail on 0207 972 3500.

I am under 18, can I give evidence?

Yes. You can give evidence to the Inquiry if you are under 18.

If you are under 18, we ask that a family member or other appropriate adult (such as a teacher, or social worker) is present when you meet with us to tell us about your experiences and concerns. Please do contact us directly or ask an adult to get in touch on your behalf so we can discuss with you how you can help the Inquiry. 

My evidence is not specific to an Essex inpatient death, can I give evidence?

Yes. The Essex Mental Health Independent Inquiry has been established to investigate deaths which took place within Essex. However, if you have information which you think may assist the Inquiry in its work, in particular in relation to making recommendations to improve patient care more broadly, then please do get in touch.

Is there an alternative way I can give evidence?

If you would like to give evidence but are uncertain as to how you might do so, please get in touch with the Inquiry. Someone from the team will be in touch with you to discuss the options for giving evidence.

If you do not feel comfortable giving evidence at an evidence session, you may wish to provide written evidence to the Inquiry. This can be done using a template that the Inquiry can provide.

Please do get in touch with the Inquiry to discuss this possibility.

I have some more questions about giving evidence. Can I find out more?

Yes. You can contact the team via email at contact@emhii.org.uk or leave a voicemail on 0207 972 3500. A member of the team will then be in touch with you to discuss the process of evidence giving and any queries you may have.

If you are not sure whether your evidence may be relevant, then please get in touch to discuss further with the Inquiry.

At your session

How will my evidence be taken?

In your evidence session you will meet with two or three members of the Inquiry team. You will be invited to tell the members of the Inquiry team about your experience.

While members of the team may ask you questions to guide the session, it will not be an interrogation; it is an opportunity for you to talk through your personal experiences and views, and for the Inquiry team to learn from you.

Audio of the session will be recorded, and after the session has ended you will be provided with a copy of the transcript. You will then be able to read this through and make any clarifications or amendments.

How long will the session last?

Each session will be booked for 90 minutes.

You do not have to stay for the full 90 minutes. If you require more than 90 minutes, or you would prefer to give evidence over shorter sessions, we can arrange this.

Who will be there when I give evidence?

You will meet with two or three members of the Inquiry team. Additional members of the team will be present to welcome you to the building and escort you to the right room but will not be present during the session.

If you have a preference for who from the Inquiry team you meet with, please just let us know.

Specialist emotional support professionals will be available but not present during the session, unless you would like them to be.

Will my evidence be recorded?

Yes – we will use audio recording devices during the evidence sessions. These will enable written transcripts of the sessions to be produced, which will be shared with you to review after your session.

Can I give evidence anonymously?

In order to properly investigate the matters you raise, the Inquiry team will require your name and details. These will be kept confidential.

What happens if I get upset during my session or require a break?

If at any point during your evidence session you get upset or would like a break, that is completely fine. We have a separate room where you can take a break, or you are welcome to get some fresh air outside the building for as long as you need before returning to the session.

Alternatively, you can end the session whenever you would like to, and we can arrange a follow up session if needed.

Will emotional support be available during and/or after the session?

Yes. You will be offered emotional support from a specialist professional before the session, on the day, and in follow up to your session.

What facilities are available at the venue?

Inquiry venues in London and Chelmsford (Essex) both have waiting areas, WiFi access, and toilets. We will also provide tea, coffee, and water for during the session.

There will be a separate room you can go to if you need a break or some time alone and we will also provide access to specialist emotional support which will be present at the venue.

If there are any specific facilities you require, please let the team know and we can discuss this.

What should I wear?

You do not need to dress formally, please wear whatever you feel most comfortable in.

What measures will you be taking to protect against transmission of Covid-19?

The Inquiry team wish to do all that we can to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

We ask that you do not attend any in person evidence session if you have Covid-19 symptoms and have not had a negative test result. If a member of your household has tested positive, we respectfully ask that you get a test before meeting with the team.

The Inquiry team will also be following this process and therefore the person you meet with may be subject to change.  

The Inquiry team will be following the current social distancing guidance. Hand sanitiser will be available on site at evidence sessions. The Inquiry team will not be wearing facemasks during the evidence sessions. However, if you would prefer us to do so, we can.

Read more here.

Will my expenses be covered?

Reasonable travel expenses can be claimed back from the Essex Mental Health Independent Inquiry Team.

You can read our expenses policy here. Please let us know if there are other expenses you may need covered and we can discuss this with you.

After your session

What will happen to my evidence?

The transcript of your session will be prepared and sent over to you for your approval. It will form part of the evidence to be considered by the Inquiry in developing its investigations.

The Inquiry handles all personal information received in line with our Privacy Information Notice.

Will the information I provide be kept confidential?   

The general approach of the Inquiry will be to treat evidence provided by family members, and those affected by the issues which the Inquiry is investigating, as confidential.  

Physical evidence will be kept in secure, locked rooms and online evidence will be stored on secure platforms.

There may be instances where evidence or parts of it will need to be shared by the Inquiry with other individuals or organisations. This will only ever be done in line with our Privacy Information Notice and Safeguarding Statement. If you have requested to remain anonymous, the Inquiry team will do everything they can to ensure the information cannot be attributed to you.

The Inquiry may refer to evidence provided within its final report. Where this happens, the Inquiry may remove some personal details or refer to evidence on an anonymised basis. The Inquiry will also contact you in advance to let you know that this is happening and ask you to provide any comments or concerns which you may have.

Some information relating to those who have died is already known to the public. Where that is the case, the Inquiry will not usually anonymise their details.

What happens after the evidence session?

Immediately after the session you will be able to meet with a member of the specialist emotional support service.

Within 10 working days of your evidence session, you will receive a copy of the transcript of your session to review and confirm you are happy with it or if you have any amendments.

Depending on the ongoing findings of the Inquiry and what the evidence sessions bring up, the Inquiry team may be in touch with follow up questions.

You are welcome to contact the Inquiry at any point after your session and can also stay updated on the progress of the Inquiry through our website: www.emhii.org.uk.

How will you contact me if you require more information?

We will contact you via your preferred contact method that you have provided.