Discuss Strategies Available To Investigators In Reducing The Suggestibility Of Child Witnesses

4250 words - 17 pages

The evidence that a person is able to give, to both investigators of a crime, and in a courtroom is one of the most important aspects of proving an offence has occurred. It is little wonder then that it is of the utmost importance that this evidence is both the truth and an accurate recollection of the events that surround the issue. When dealing with children as witnesses, it is imperative to acknowledge that suggestibility is of much concern when obtaining this evidence. This paper will outline the memory processes and detail a number of factors that influence suggestibility. It will also explain the PEACE model of interviewing along with the cognitive interview, and show how these ...view middle of the document...

" (Rubin and McNeil. 1985.)Long-term memory can be described as, "the process by which we can retain information for days, years, or even a life time." (Rubin and McNeil. 1985.) All the information that we know and everything that we can remember is stored in our long-term memory. According to Gray, "It is the stored representation of all that a person knows." However, information does not automatically enter the long-term memory. Information enters the short-term memory at the acquisition stage.Acquisition is the first stage of a memory. In keeping with the theme of a significant event, it is the event occurring, and the witnessing of this event. According to Roediger and Gallo (2002) "Background characteristics of a person can also affect how well he or she retains events." In this regard, age has an impact on a person's ability to retain information.At the encoding or retention stage, the event will be stored in the short-term memory. For this event to be remembered and placed in our long-term memory, the information must be encoded or rehearsed. Information from short-term memory is stored in long-term memory by rehearsal. The repeated exposure to a stimulus or the rehearsal of a piece of information transfers it into long-term memory. Encoding is similar to programming. "Encoding refers to the initial registration of information - it's perception and the immediate postperceptual processing." (Roediger and Gallo. 2002) Basically, encoding is about making sense of the information, and relating it into something that is meaningful. "Most encoding is not deliberate; rather, it occurs incidentally as a side effect of the special interest that you devote to certain items of information." (Gray, 1999) This information is then stored in the long-term memory, and 'filed' per se, in a schema, which are organised sections of memory. For example, the memories of birthday parties would usually be stored in a similar location, as thoughts of one party can trigger another.Retrieval is the ability to recall the events that have occurred previously. In some cases, people are able to retrieve these memories with apparent ease, however, retrieval cues are often needed. There are a large number of retrieval cues that are available for investigators to use when conducting interviews. Some of these include free, series and cued recall. "Recalling an event is not a matter of finding a faithful recording in the brain, but rather is a matter of reconstructing the event from clues and logic." (Gray. 1999) Retrieval cues often have the ability to evoke memories that have either been forgotten, or would not be able to be recalled without cues. Sherlock Holmes described the brain as a "little empty attic." (Rubin and McNeil 1985) Using this analogy, information should be stored in particular areas depending on the type of information. However, it is important to remember that memories are not stored away separately, but are connected to other memories by a network...

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