Forensic interviewing and witness evidence

Stephenson, Kevon (2015) Forensic interviewing and witness evidence. MSc dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    Witness testimony is of vital importance to the dissemination of justice in the adversarial legal system. The legal system in England, Wales, Jamaica and most of the commonwealth is heavily reliant on written witness statements (WWS) adduced as evidence in the courts. Over time the procedure for producing these statements has evolved however, insufficient attention has been given to the methodology employed in recording these statements. There are many problems associated with the WWS. For example, the theories of memory and suggestibility have unearthed several vulnerabilities for both investigators and witnesses, which often result in the production of less than accurate WWSs compared to the actual witness recall. WWSs often contain new information and contrary facts also, important information is sometimes omitted from the written product, whether wittingly or unwittingly. The absence of legislation and policy which facilitate mandatory recording of the statement taking process has caused the production of inaccurate WWSs to continue unabated. One of the foremost consequences of this practice has been miscarriages of justice in which the guilty walks free. There are alternative methods which could be used in place of or to supplement the WWS for example, the Record of Video Interview (ROVI). The ROVI is not being used presently as evidence in the courts, its utility is limited to the investigative process. The present study measured the accuracy of WWSs and ROVIs obtained under two interview conditions (i) Cognitive Interview (CI), and (ii) Standard Police Question and Answer (SPQ&A) which, was done by recording 60 interviews, from these 60 interviews, 30 ROVIs (15 under CI and 15 under SPQ&A) and 30 WWSs (15 under CI and 15 under SPQ&A) were produced. These (ROVIs and WWSs) were then compared to their corresponding recordings and checked for inclusions, new information and omissions. It was found that the ROVI regardless of interview condition was more accurate than the WWS. Which suggests that it should be upgraded from a mere investigative tool to an evidential product; also, witness interviews should be recorded as a matter of course since this provides a point of reference from which written witness testimony may be authenticated.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Institute of Criminal Justice Studies
    Depositing User: Beth Atkins
    Date Deposited: 03 Dec 2015 12:39
    Last Modified: 03 Dec 2015 12:39

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