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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.