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.
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 Self-Administered Interview (SAI©) is a powerful evidence-based
investigative interviewing tool designed to elicit comprehensive initial
statements from multiple witnesses and victims, particularly in time- and
resource-critical situations. Developed in the laboratory and tested in
the field, the research underpinning the SAI© has resulted in changes in
policy, professional practice and training activities within police forces
internationally. Operationally, the SAI© has contributed to the
investigation of major criminal incidents enabling investigators to
collect information from witnesses in challenging situations. The SAI© has
elicited critical leads and compelling evidence for Court proceedings —
indicating public benefit arising from service improvements.
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.
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.
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.
This research informed the introduction and on-going implementation of a
major criminal policy innovation, namely, Pre-Trial Witness Interviewing
(PTWI) by Crown Prosecutors across England and Wales. It was conducted in
partnership with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), and provided
independent evaluation of PTWI as an integral component of the piloting
phase prior to national roll-out. The research formed part of the initial
PTWI training of selected Crown Prosecutors and, following roll-out,
continued to serve as a resource for frontline prosecutors, affecting case
progression, complainants' experiences and the outcomes of criminal cases
(prominently including serious sexual assaults and domestic violence).
Psychologists at the University of Liverpool (UoL) have made an
internationally significant impact on law enforcement and associated
agencies, and the emergency and security services with regards to evidence
based approaches to critical and major investigations, specifically with
regards to developing: (i) educational and pedagogic practices in training
senior personnel; (ii) professional standards and guidelines in planning,
response and recovery and (ii) evidence based decision support tools to
assist in work force planning, efficiency savings and providing a clear
evidence base for managing risk. These contributions span several diverse
areas including criminal investigation, disaster management, public order
policing, child protection and terrorism.
This case describes social and health impact which arose as a result of interdisciplinary research at
the University of Liverpool and the University of Manchester on the use of computer tools for
communication with children and vulnerable adults. This research led to the development of the In
My Shoes (IMS) computer program which is now widely used for interviewing children (for example
in cases of child abuse) in local authorities across the UK. Since 2008, IMS has been used in the
UK by more than 750 practitioners including psychologists, child psychiatrists, other mental health
staff, health workers, educational workers, and specialists in forensic services. IMS is also used
internationally in Ireland, Belgium, Sweden, and Norway, where more than 100 practitioners are
already trained and are using the program in their day to day work.