Researchers at Abertay University are engaged in research that focuses on
developing and testing evidence-based procedures that inform and enhance
policing procedures surrounding evidence gathering. One particularly
successful line of research has produced an innovative investigative tool
called the `Self Administered Interview' (SAI©) that is proven to enhance
witness statements and protect memory. The SAI© was developed and tested
in a series of controlled lab-based studies at UAD, and later field-tested
with eyewitnesses to real crimes with the support of the Association of
Chief Police Officers. The SAI© is already standard police practice in
some UK and European forces with over 2,500 officers trained in its use.
It has also been used in major Health and Safety investigations in the
off-shore Oil and Gas industry.
The development of a robust criminal justice system is vital in any
civilised society and benefits
victims, witnesses, police, suspects, and the general public. Research in
the Department of
Psychology at Royal Holloway, University of London has investigated
underlying memory retrieval in the context of criminal justice scenarios
in which memory may be
particularly vulnerable. This research has had major impacts on the way in
which police interview
witnesses to a crime, and on the way in which video identification parades
are conducted. It has
also led indirectly to significant developments in the way in which
evidence from very young
children is treated in court.
The University of Portsmouth research into effective use of the Cognitive
Interview (CI) by police forces in the UK and overseas has led to
recommendations for changes to training of police officers in this field
throughout their careers being adopted in several countries across the
world. The work, led by Dr Becky Milne, has also been used to inform the
decision making processes of a variety of national policy reviews and
professional bodies. Research has improved the standard of interviewing,
particularly for sensitive investigations such as rape and child abuse.
Changes to the law in the early 1990s removed the need for corroborating
or physical evidence in abuse cases and allowed videotaped evidence of a
child or other vulnerable witnesses to be used in a criminal court. This
necessitated the drawing up of guidance to help police officers and other
judicial practitioners, gather crucial evidence while minimising
unintentional influence. Research at Leicester has underpinned work to
assess and improve the effectiveness of this guidance and to create a
framework of procedural best practice. This has influenced and directed
the formation of protocols and training development of practitioners for
uniform, fair and reliable investigative interviewing of vulnerable
witnesses and for accurate identification and interrogative interviewing
of suspects in the UK and through the sharing of best practice, across the
UK and internationally.
Professor Tim Valentine is an expert in facial identification by
eyewitnesses. His research has proved that video lineups provide more
reliable evidence than live lineups. It has contributed to changes in the
legal code of practice for eyewitness identification. He has trained
hundreds of police officers and lawyers in the problems of witness
identification, and acted as an expert witness in criminal cases.
High-profile cases include Abdel Basset al-Megrahi (the Lockerbie bomber),
Barry George (wrongly convicted of Jill Dando's murder) and Omar Deghayes,
a British resident detained in Guantanamo Bay.
This research, which examines police investigatory methods to identify police suspects has directly
increased suspect identification rates by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS). It led to the MPS
establishing a register of `super-recognisers' - officers particularly skilled at identifying faces from
CCTV footage - and changed practices. Dissemination of the research, also well-publicised in the
media, has influenced national policy makers. There is worldwide interest and secured European
funding for a test to identify super-recognisers amongst police cohorts. The research is also
improving recognition of EFIT-V images, the facial composite system used by most UK police
forces. Dr Davis is disseminating his findings through the training course that operators have to
complete to be certified to produce composites in real police investigations. He is also contributing
to economic impact by enhancing the EFIT-V product.
This case study focuses on the researcher's work on witness protection
arrangements put in place by police forces to ensure the safety of
individuals and close relatives whose lives are in danger as a result of
their willingness to give evidence in criminal trials. Typically this
involves the permanent relocation of witnesses and their families to new
communities and the adoption of new identities.
This research was the first of its kind in the world and its impact has
been evident in:
This case study is based on the use of storytelling research developed in
Sunderland, to develop professional practice, management development, and
interviewing approaches within the police. The research and subsequent
impact developed from the convergence of three separate streams of work:
The exploration of storytelling as a means to management and
organisational development (the work of Reissner and Du Toit), use of
storytelling as a research method (Sanders and Lawson) and a stream
exploring investigative interviewing techniques. Application of the
approaches developed at Sunderland within the police force regionally and
nationally has led to evidenced impact at several levels: individual
officers, force development and national policy on interviewing practice.
Dr Kneller's research on cognitive performance under challenging
circumstances demonstrates impact in two areas:
1) Informing practice in diving. Kneller's research has demonstrated the
effects of nitrogen narcosis on memory, and how anxiety may compound its
severity. This has implications for recreational, commercial and military
diving and has been recognized by diving industry sources.
2) Improving eyewitness identification within the context of crimes.
Kneller's research has informed practice in the process of eyewitness
identification for victims of crime. Her findings have impacted on
policing practice in terms of how suspect line-ups are conducted and her
expertise recognized within practitioner circles.
Pioneering research by the Universities' Police Science Institute (UPSI)
has made police more effective at understanding and responding to crime
and disorder. UPSI's work has provided an evidence base about how to
engage effectively with communities so that policing interventions target
those issues influencing how people think, feel and act about their
safety. Key impacts have been: changing Home Office policy for the
policing of antisocial behaviour across England and Wales; informing the
Prevent counter-terrorism strategy for the UK and overseas and improving
the outcomes of South Wales Police's Neighbourhood Policing Teams.