International Journal of Speech Language and the Law, Vol 8, No 2 (2001)

The genesis of a witness statement

Frances Rock
Issued Date: 5 Mar 2007

Abstract


This article steps back from the plethora of learned articles on simulated interviews with witnesses, the success of interview techniques and cognitive loads on interviewees and interviewers; it reports a detailed examination of the way witness statements are taken, from the first verbal account given by a witness to the final written statement penned by their interviewer. The article examines a statement-taking session and the resulting statement. It presents examples to illustrate which aspects of the witnessÂ’s account are changed during the statement-taking session and how. That is, in what ways, and through what processes does the original version provided by the witness change through the subsequent renderings during the statement-taking session and in the final statement text? There are several reasons for doing this. This enables us to understand: firstly, a little more about what a witness statement is; secondly, how itness statements become what they are; and thirdly, in which ways witness statements might not be what they at first appear to be.

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DOI: 10.1558/sll.2001.8.2.44

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