Is the free recall in a significant witness interview suitable for evidence-in-chief in criminal proceedings?

Gartrell, Peter (2012) Is the free recall in a significant witness interview suitable for evidence-in-chief in criminal proceedings? MSc dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    Over the last thirty years, the Enhanced Cognitive Interview (ECI) has been developed and introduced into investigative interview training in the UK resulting in a substantial increase in the quantity and quality of information obtained in real life investigations. The Criminal Justice Act 2003 allows these visually recorded accounts to perform the role of evidence-in-chief but the phased structure of the ECI model means information emanates from several different points across the interview. Playing an edited recording in court therefore makes the interview appear disjointed and unstructured, limiting its usefulness as an evidential product. Consequently, current practice is for written statements to be produced and served in the usual manner as part of the prosecution case. Additionally, research has shown the cognitive mnemonics contained within the ECI model to be poorly utilised, including unskilled use of questioning strategies. Therefore, using a sample of thirty interviews conducted by the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary (D&CC) between 2010-2012, and a specifically designed rating scale to measure information quantity, duration and composite evidential effectiveness, a quantitative and qualitative evaluation of significant witness interviews was conducted to ascertain the suitability of the free recall to be used as evidence-in-chief. Common practices were identified, with witnesses being poorly prepared to undertake the cognitive interview task, subject to a high proportion of unsuitable question types and the cognitive mnemonics remaining largely unused. This resulted in inadequate quantitative and qualitative free recall for evidential use. The study acknowledges this and makes suggestions how significant witness interviewing training may be restructured and refocused with a view to the free recall information being adequate for use as evidence-in chief in criminal proceedings.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Institute of Criminal Justice Studies
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 26 Feb 2013 13:27
    Last Modified: 28 Jan 2015 12:16

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