[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 May 2007, 11:38 GMT 12:38 UK
Memory tool helps crime witnesses
Police crime scene tape
Witnesses will be able to "freeze" details of crime scenes
Scientists in Dundee have developed a new psychological tool that "freezes" the memory of crime scene witnesses.

The self-administered interview (SAI) is a questionnaire which combats natural memory loss by using the latest psychology techniques.

It was developed by a research team led by the University of Abertay.

Tests showed SAI witnesses reported 43% more forensically relevant and accurate information than witnesses asked to "report as much they could remember".

As the delay between witnessing and formal interview increases to days, memory decay will level off but by that time, many useful and forensically relevant details or clues may be lost forever
Dr Fiona Gabbart, University of Abertay

The tests also revealed that the witnesses recorded 44% more personal details about other people who had been involved in the event.

Dr Fiona Gabbart from Abertay University developed the SAI protocol tool with support from Dr Lorraine Hope from the University of Portsmouth and Professor Ronald Fisher from Florida International University.

Dr Gabbert's team worked with police forces in Scotland and England to develop the SAI tool.

She said the longer the gap between witnessing an event and fully recalling it under formal interview conditions, the less accurate it is likely to be.

'Supports witnesses'

"Decades of research in cognitive psychology demonstrate that memory decay, or forgetting, occurs rapidly at first.

"In a witnessing situation, this 'forgetting' will occur naturally and within hours of the incident.

"As the delay between witnessing and formal interview increases to days, memory decay will level off. However, by that time, many useful and forensically relevant details or clues may be lost forever."

She added: "An early recall attempt serves to protect or "freeze" the memory against the course of forgetting.

"The SAI supports the witness in both the recall and reporting of as much information as possible before that information has been lost."




RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific