About the Family Law Week blog

The Family Law Week Blog is a companion site to Family Law Week. It complements the news, cases and articles published on Family Law Week with additional comment and coverage of the wider aspects of family law.

The Blog is edited by Jacqui Gilliatt, of 4 Brick Court and Lucy Reed, of St Johns Chambers.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Memories are made of this

I managed to get myself to the ALC conference this year - a treat I have been promising myself for some time.

One particularly interesting talk was given by Martin Conway on memory.  Martin is a Professor of Cognitive Pyschology based at Leeds University.  Some of his thoughts are summarised in this article in the Barrister magazine.  The full report of the British Psychological Society report on memory and the law to which he refers is here & there are some other interesting snippets about memory on this Open University page

All this caught my attention because I was just about to start a hearing where a key issue was whether or not a child was giving a genuine account of an incident of sexual abuse or not but of course, the reliability of memories are key factors in most forensic situations.

Another interesting expert approach to analysing accounts is that of Dr Bryan Tully who has been a key player in the development of the Criteria Based Content Analysis & Statement Validity Assessment approach which is well described in this literature review by Vrij of the University of Portsmouth.  You can download a chapter which Dr Tully has contributed to a Wiley book on Children's Testimony - note you have to register for this site and pay a fee for 24 hour access.

One point that stuck in my mind was the unhelpfulness of police interview questions to children about the time of day, clothes worn and other extraneous details in establishing whether an account is reliable.  I had always assumed that supporting detail was correlated to truthfulness but apparently not.

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