Drawing to support vulnerable witnesses' and victims' episodic memory:increasing access to justice

Mattison, Michelle (2015) Drawing to support vulnerable witnesses' and victims' episodic memory:increasing access to justice. PhD thesis, UNSPECIFIED.

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Information provided by witnesses is fundamental to the investigation of criminal offences, and vulnerable people make up a large proportion of witnesses who enter the criminal justice system. Research concerning particularly vulnerable witnesses (i.e., children with autism) is still in its infancy. Further, research concerning typically developing children and adolescents, while vast, does not fully address the developmental and cognitive needs that this population present. Current best practice for eliciting information from vulnerable witnesses in England and Wales advocates the use of the Cognitive Interview (CI), which includes the Mental Reinstatement of Context (MRC) mnemonic. However, the benefits of MRC are unclear, both with typically developing children and children with autism. This thesis presents a series of studies that investigate how children might be better supported to recreate the context of an event using a developmentally appropriate drawing technique (Sketch-Reinstatement of Context; Sketch-RC). First, this thesis explores the interviewing practices of professionals who conduct or assist interviews with vulnerable witnesses, with a particular focus on the use of drawing. Following this, a series of studies examine the efficacy of Sketch-RC and MRC with both typically developing children and children with autism spectrum disorder. Findings demonstrate that practitioners make regular use of drawing during investigative interviews. Importantly, Sketch-RC was found to be most effective for all children, improving remembering without a concomitant increase in incorrect or confabulated recall. Further, Sketch-RC enabled children with autism to perform on par with their typically developing peers. These findings provide evidence for an empirically and theoretically supported retrieval tool that can be used by practitioners when interviewing vulnerable witnesses.

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Thesis (PhD)
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24 Nov 2015 09:20
Last Modified:
12 Sep 2023 00:16