Making A Case

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Interviewing Witnesses 1.1 Facial Recognition

Vicky Bruce et al.

Aim: To investigate how people match previously constructed composite faces with real photos of celebrities.

Method: 30 participants were given target photos of 10 celebrities and had to match the correct composite image to the celebrity from 40 composites. 

  •   Group 1 saw complete composites.
  •   Group 2 saw internal feature composites only.
  •   Group 3 saw external feature composites only.


1) Whole composites were matched 33% of the time.

2) External features were matched 33% of the time.

3) Internal features were matched 19.5% of the time.

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Interviewing Witnesses 1.2 Accurate Identification

Loftus, Loftus and Messo

Aim: To investigate factors that influence the accuracy of identification.

Method: 36 participants viewed a series of slides of an event in a fast food restaurant. In the first experiment, half of the participants saw a customer point a gun at the cashier, while the other half saw him handing in a check. Eye movement was recorded while they watched the slides. In the second experiment, 80 participants were shown the same slides. Half seeing the check version and half the weapon version. 


1) 1st experiment, there was more eye movement towards the weapon than the check.

2) 1st experiment, the 'weapon' group were less accurate in identifying the perpetrator out of 12 people.

3) 2nd experiment, the 'weapon' group were worse at answering questions about the perpetrator and were less accurate in identification of the perpetrator. 

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Interviewing Witnesses 1.3 Cognitive Interview

Technique devised by Ronald Fisher and Edward Geiselman.

1) Asking witness to report absolutly everything, regardless of the percieved importance of the information.

2) Mentally reinstating the context of the event, i.e. the sounds, smells, feelings experienced during the event.

3) Asking witness to recall the events in various orders or in reverse order.

4) Recalling the event from a variety of perspectives, i.e. imagining what the scene must have looked like from the point of view of several characters there at the time. 

This technique aims to maximise the number of potential retrieval routes and to benefit from memory overlap and alternate retrieval cues, hopefully triggering unrecalled details. 

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Interviewing Witnesses 1.3 Cognitive Interview

Fisher and Geiselman

Aim: To compare the performance of experienced detectives, pre- and post-training, in cognitive interviewing techniques and to compare thei performance post-training with a controp group.

Method:16 experienced detectives from Florida taped several interviews of commercial robbery. The 7 in the experimental group took part in 4 training sessions of 1 hour. 47 interviews were recorded over 7 months, these were transcribed and scored by independent judges. 


1) 47% more information was recorded in the post-training interviews.

2) 63 % more information was recorded in the interviews conducted by the trained detectives compared to the control group. 

3) The results clearly show the effectiveness of the cognitive interviewing technique over traditional interviewing methods and it could also be suggested that theis training is relatively easy to provide.

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Interviewing Suspects 2.1 Lie Detection

Vrij and Mann

Aim: To investigate the behavioural features that demonstrate lying and to test if liars show the commonly believed signs of deception such as gaze aversion and figeting. 

Method: In this observationsal study, short clips (16-67 seconds) of a murdere's interrogation were coded by 2 independent observers. 2 fragments, 1 truth, 1 lie were taken from the interview before confession, 4 fragments (2 truths, 2 lies) were taken during his confession. The IV was whether the videotaped extracts were true or false, the DV's were the behaviours coded below. 

DV's: Gaze aversion, smiling. head movement, number of pauses and length of pauses. 


1) Suspect showed similar deceptive behaviour when lying before and during the confession.

2) He showed more gaze aversion before the confession and less during the confession. 

3) No evidence for the belief that people fidget when they are lying.

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Interviewing Suspects 2.2 Interrogation

Inbau et al. The '9' steps of interrogation.

1) Direct confrontation- teling the suspect that they are guilty.

2) Chance to shift blame- showing sympathy.

3) Never allow the suspect to deny guilt- Interrupt when the are trying to claim innoceince 

4) Ignor excuses- Push for a confession.

5) Reinforce sincerity, eye contact, first names.

6) If the suspect cries, infer guilt.

7) Post the 'alternative question'- give 2 choices, 1 more socially acceptable, but both inferring guilt.

8) Get the suspect to admit guilt in front of the witness.

9) Get a confession signed.

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Interviewing Suspects 2.3 False Confessions

Gudjohnsson et al. 

There are 3 types of false confessions:

1) Voluntary confession- no obvious external pressure.

2) Coered compliant confession- after forceful or persistent questioning the suspect confessed to escape the interview situation.

3) Coerced internalised confession- where the suspect becomes temporarily persuaded that they are guilty.

Aim: To document a case of false confession of a youth who was at the time distressed and susceptible to interrogative pressure. 

Method: A case study of a 17 year old youth who was accused of 2 murders. During the interview he was repeatedly accused of lying, the questioning was leading and accusatory and the police suggested he was sexually impotent. After 14 hours of questioning without a break he confessed. he retracted his confession the next day, only to confess again later. 

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Creating a Profile 3.1 Top Down Typology (FBI)


1) Profilling inputs- police reports, evidence from the crime scene, forensic evidence, background of the victim.

2) Homicide type and style- number of victims, type of victims, location. 

3) Crime assessment- how did the offender and the victim behave? During this stage a reconstruction may be helpful.

4) The actual criminal profile- the profile from which police can target likely suspects.

Organised offenders- Show evidence of planning, they target the victim and have tried to control the situation as much as possible. The have at least average intelligence, social and sexual competence and are lready in an intimate relationship. 

Disorganised offenders- Tend to be socially inadiquate, may know the crime scene or the victim and live alone. The crime scene shows evidence of the impulsive, unplanned nature of the attack that uses the minimal amount of restraint and no attempt to conceal the body.

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Creating a Profile 3.1 Top Down Typology (FBI)

Evaluation of the 'Top Down' approach.

1) The type of information available at the crime scene is restricted and as material is not collected under strict lab conditions it could be incomplete, ambiguous and unreliable.

2) The profile of an offender is based on the subjective judgements made by the profiler rather than on a scientific basis.

3) the typologies developed by the FBI for murders and rapists (36) are limited, reductionist and don't offer help for more common crimes such as car theft, burglary and assault. 

4) The original study on the FBI in established offender profling may be methodologically flawed since no control groups were used to compare the evidence obtained from interviews with offenders.  

5) Much of the evidence used by the FBI was simply information obtained in interviews with offenders. 

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Creating a Profile 3.2 Bottom Up Typology (British

David Canter and Investigative Psychology

1) The way in which an individual offender's behaviour while committing a crime mirrors their behaviour in everyday life.

2) Canter and Heritage originally develpoed thier views by studying 66 sexual assault cases which had been committed by 27 different offenders. They identified 33 offence charateristics which occured frequently. 

3) Smallest Space Analysis- Statistical correlations that can be plotted on a graph to show how different types of actions are related or unrelated.

4) Geographicaly Profiling- Focuses on the internal mental maps that offenders will have and how they have significance for the understanding of their crimes.

5) Circle Theory of Environmental Range- This suggests that it is possible to obtain information about an offenders home location by the study of their offence locations. 

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Creating a Profile 3.2 Bottom Up Typology (British

Evaluation of the Bottom Up approach.

1) Canter's approach draws on widly acknowledged psychological concepts such as mental maps.

2) There is no reason why Canter's approach cannot be applied to less serious crimes.

3) There is less opportunity for subjective decision making because crime scene data is statistically analysed.

4) There has been a number of high profile failures. Copson reports that the advice given in a profile only helps catch the offender in 3% of cases.

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Creating a Profile 3.2 Bottom Up Typology (British

Case Study of John Duffy- The Railway ****** 

1) 24 sexual assaults occured in North London, it was believed to be 1 man. 

2) Canter compiled his profile by analysing the detail of the offences, e.g. what had been said, the nature of the sexual activity and the knowledge of police procedures. 

3) John Duffy had been the 1,505th on the list of 2,000 suspects before the profile. Duffy learnt police procedures which encouraged him to burn his dead victims. 

4) Canter suggested that John Dufy was a loner, with few friends. John Duffy only had 2 male friends. 

5) Canter suggested that John Duffy kept souvenires from his crimes. He had 33 door keys from victims.

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