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                         Forensic Psychology

Candidates should: -
    Be able to describe and evaluate the areas in the light of
      psychological theories, studies and evidence;
    Always seek to apply psychological methods, perspectives and
    Actively seek to apply theory and evidence to the improvements of
      real-life events and situations;
    Explore social, moral cultural and spiritual issues where applicable;
    Consider ways in which the core areas of psychology (cognitive
      psychology, developmental psychology, physiological psychology,
      social psychology and the psychology of individual differences),
      studied in the AS course, can inform our understanding of forensic


1) Turning to Crime -

What makes a criminal?

The murder of Rhys Jones
Sean Mercer, who lived at Good Shepherd Close, Croxteth, was 16 years
old when he shot Rhys outside the Fir Tree pub in August 2007 as the
schoolboy walked back to his home from
football practice.
Mercer was a member of a gang called the
Croxteth Crew in Liverpool. When he fired
the bullets that killed Rhys he was trying to
shoot people who were in a different gang to
him, the Norris Green Gang.

Who would you explain Sean Mercer‟s

                                              Sean Mercer
What factors do we need to consider?

It is never easy or straightforward to explain why people turn to crime.
We must be careful to avoid reductionist (simplistic) or deterministic
(criminal behaviour is outside the control of the individual) arguments.
Upbringing, biology and cognition (thought processes) can all explain
criminality; however the real reasons are far more complex. All these are
factors that affect the chances of turning to crime; none by themselves
are causal factors. It is the interaction between these factors and
individual differences between people that influences whether or not
people turn to crime. It must be remembered that everyone has free
will; we choose whether or not to break the law.


Task: - In small groups discuss the following points

   1) Some criminal behaviour is seen as more socially acceptable than
      others. Make a list of acceptable and unacceptable crimes: -

   2) Could it be true that there would be no crime if no one ever had
      seen a crime being committed?

   3) Being totally honest, what laws in our society do you think are
      worth breaking?

   4) Have you ever broken those laws because you have learned to from
      your friends?

   5) How have you defined a situation to feel it is worth breaking those
      rules? Give an example.

   6) Do you feel the media has a role to play in criminality?


Is it true that crime runs in families?

Many would argue that the biggest influence on criminality is the family.
If your family are criminals it is likely that you will also be a criminal.
However, this is obviously a very deterministic explanation, as it ignores
individual differences, some people do manage to buck the trend and turn
their lives around. Conversely, some people from law abiding families go
on to become criminals.

Farrington (2006) The Cambridge Study in Delinquent Development

Aim: - 1. To document the start, duration and end of offending
behaviour from childhood and to adulthood in families.

2. To investigate the influence of life events; the risk and protective
factors predicting offending and antisocial behaviour; the
intergenerational transmission of offending and the influence of family

Procedure: -A prospective longitudinal study of 411 boys aged 8 and 9 in
1953/4. The boys were taken from the registers of 6 state schools in
East London and were predominately white working class; they came from
397 different families (14 brothers and five sets of twins). At age 48,
when last interviewed 394 were still alive and 365 were interviewed

Results: - (only a few selected results as this is a huge study!)
    At age 48 of 404 individuals searched in criminal records, 161 had
    The number of offenders and offences peaked at age 17.
    Those who started criminal careers aged 10-13 were nearly all
      reconvicted (91%) and committed on average 9 crimes. Those who
      started aged 14-16 had an average of 6 crimes. These two groups
      (early offenders) accounted for 77% of all crime in the group (620
      out of 808)
    Self-report crimes indicate that 93% had committed at least one
      offence at some time in their lives.


      7% were defined as chronic offenders and accounted for half of all
       the offences. On average, their conviction careers lasted from age
       14 – 35.
      Most of the chronic offenders shared childhood characteristics:
       - convicted before age 21, convicted parent, high daring, a
       delinquent sibling, young mother, low popularity, disrupted
       family and a large family size.
      The proportion of men leading successful lives increased from 78%
       at age 32 to 88% at age 48. The most important finding was that
       those who only committed crime up to the age of 20 were no
       different in terms of success from those who had never been
       convicted of any crime.

Conclusion: -
Farrington concluded that offenders tend to be deviant in many areas of
their lives. The most important risk factors for criminality in the family
are: - poverty, impulsiveness, poor child-rearing and poor school
performance. Hence, early intervention programmes for the under 10s
could have significant impact in reducing offending.

 Evaluation: -


The influence of Peers

Family is not the only influence on criminality. We often hear the phrase
“Got in with a bad crowd”; our friendship groups can profoundly affect
criminality especially during adolescence.

Sutherland (1939) – Differential Association Hypothesis
 Sutherland presented his theory in the form of nine principles. Make
notes under each one: -

   1. Criminal behaviour is learnt.

   2. Criminal behaviour is learned in interaction with other persons in a
      process of communication.

   3. The principle part of the learning of criminal behaviour occurs
      within intimate personal groups.

   4. When criminal behaviour is learned, the learning includes the
      techniques of committing the crime, which are sometimes very
      complicated, sometimes very simple and the specific direction of
      motives, drives, rationalisations and attitudes.

   5. The specific direction of motives and drives is learned from
      definitions of the legal codes as favourable or unfavourable.

   6. A person becomes delinquent because of an excess of definitions
      favourable to violation of law over definitions unfavourable to
      violation of law.

   7. Differential associations (number of contacts with criminals over
      non-criminals) may vary in frequency, duration, priority and


   8. The process of learning criminal behaviour by association with
      criminal and anti-criminal patterns involves all of the mechanisms
      that are involved in any other learning. (Behaviourism)

   9. While criminal behaviour is an expression of general needs and
      values, it is not explained by those general needs and values, since
      non-criminal behaviour is an expression of the same needs and

Summary: -Sutherland‟s theory is based on two core assumptions: -
  1. Deviance occurs when people define a certain human situation as an
     appropriate occasion for violating social norms or criminal laws.
  2. Definitions of the situation are acquired through an individual‟s
     history of past experience.

Evaluation: - This theory provides a good explanation for certain types of
violent crime, but cannot be applied to crimes committed by individuals acting
alone. The theory is dated and underestimates the influence of the media
(principle 3).


Poverty & Disadvantaged Neighbourhoods

Socio-economic deprivation can be seen as a plausible explanation for the
crime of theft; however, we still need to consider individual differences.
Most poor people choose not to steal. Disadvantaged neighbourhoods are
associated with gangs; however this links more clearly to the influence of
peers on criminality.

Wikstrom & Tafel (2003) - The Peterborough Youth Study

Aim: - To investigate why young people offend.

Procedure: - A cross-sectional study was carried out on nearly 2000
year 10 students (14-15). Data was collected from official records and
the students were interviewed.

Results: -
    44.8% of males and 30.6% of females had committed at least one
      crime (violence, vandalism, shoplifting, burglary and car theft)
      during the year 2000.
    9.8% of males and 3.8% of females have committed a serious crime
      of theft.
    High-frequency offenders commit a wide range of crimes.
    One in eight were reported to or caught by the police for their last
    Offenders are victimised more than non-offenders. Violent
      offenders are more likely to become victims of violence.
    Offenders are more likely to abuse drink and/or drugs.

Explanatory factors: -
    Family social position
    Individual characteristics
    Social situation
    Lifestyle
    Community context


Conclusion: -
Wikstrom & Tafel suggest three groups of adolescent offenders: -

   1. Propensity Induced
   These youths have an enduring propensity to offend. It is only a small
   group, but is responsible for a disproportionate number of offences.
   The have a number of risk factors such as weak family and social
   bonds, low levels of self-control, anti-social values, low levels of shame
   and a high risk lifestyle.

   2. Lifestyle Dependent
   This group are average in terms of social adjustment. They offend
   when they have high risk lifestyles, for example socialising with
   delinquent peers and using drugs or alcohol.

   3. Situationally limited
   These are youths who may occasionally offend if they are exposed to
   high levels of situational risk. As their offending is very closely linked
   to the situation they find themselves in, they are unlikely to re-

  Evaluation: -


Do criminals think differently from other people?

They must be able to rationalise their own behaviour and decide the risks
involved are worth the possible gains.

The basic assumption here is that criminals must think in a fundamentally
different way to law-abiding citizens. The big problem here is how do we
ever really know how and what another person is thinking?

Yochelson & Samenow (1976) – A study of thinking patterns in

Aims: -
   1. To understand the make-up of the criminal personality.
   2. To establish techniques that could be used to alter the personality
      disorders that produce crime.
   3. To encourage an understanding of legal responsibility.
   4. To establish techniques that can be effective in preventing
      criminal behaviour.

Procedure: - A longitudinal study conducted over 14 years. 255 male
participants from various backgrounds; black, white, those from the inner
city, suburbs, wealthy, poor etc., were interviewed at various points over
the years. The population was mainly those confined to a mental hospital
who had been found guilty of a crime, but pleaded insanity and a roughly
equal group of convicted prisoners, not confined to a mental institution.
Most of the participants dropped out of the study, only 30 completed the
programme of interviews.

Findings: -
    Are restless, dissatisfied and irritable
    While at school, considered requests from their teachers and
      parents as impositions
    Continually set themselves apart from others
    Want to live a life of excitement, at any cost
    Are habitually angry
    Are lacking empathy
    Feel under no obligation to anyone or anything


      Are poor at responsible decision-making, having pre-judged

Conclusions: - 52 thinking patterns were distinguished in the criminal
personality. These were considered to be „errors‟ in thinking. However,
as there was no control group of non-criminals we cannot be certain that
these traits are only found in criminals.

 Evaluation: -
 What is the problem with the sample?

 Issues with the research method, data collected etc.


Moral Development

Morals are a set of norms and values, usually learnt from our parents
about what is right and wrong.

In the UK the age of criminal responsibility is 10; children over 10 are
deemed to clearly know the difference between right and wrong. Other
countries have different age limits; German 18, Scotland 8.

Kohlberg (1963) was heavily influenced by the work of Piaget and
believed that children‟s cognition developed through stages. His research
involved presenting groups of boys with moral dilemmas and then asking
them questions about them. His most famous moral dilemma is below: -

Discuss the questions in small groups.

  Heinz Dilemma
  Heinz’s wife was suffering from terminal cancer. In an effort to save her he
  went Cognition
Social to a chemist who had developed a cure which might help her.
  Unfortunately, the chemist wanted much more money for his cure than
  Heinz could afford and refused to sell it for less. Even when Heinz
  borrowed enough money for half the or what do we blame when still
Attribution is all about blame. Who cost of the drug, the chemistwe do
  refused to sell it him. realise that we means of getting the known as
something wrong.toIf we Having no other are to blame, that isdrug, Heinz
internal attribution, if we blame others, or outside factors, it is known as
  broke into the chemist’s laboratory and stole it.
external attribution. An offender is considered on the round to
       Should he have broken into the laboratory? Why?
rehabilitation when they can take full responsibility for their actions, in
       Should the chemist insist on the inflated price for his invention?
other words come to an internal attribution.
         Does he have the right?
     What should happen to Heinz?
     What & Bownes The attribution of blame and type of crime
Gudjohnsson if Heinz did–not love his wife – does that change anything?
     What
committed. if the dying person was a stranger? Should Heinz have stolen
       the Moral Development in Children (1963)
Kohlberg - drug anyway?

Aim: - To find evidence in support of a progression through stages of
moral development.

Procedure: - 58 working and middle class boys from Chicago aged 7, 10,
13, 16 were given a two hour interview with 10 dilemma (like the Heinz) to
solve. Some of these boys were followed up at 3 yearly intervals and the
study was repeated in 1969 in the UK, Mexico, Taiwan, USA and Yucatan.


Findings: - Younger boys tended to perform at stages 1 and 2, with older
boys at stages 3 and 4. This pattern was consistent across different

Level 1                      Stage 1 Punishment & Obedience
Pre-morality                 Orientation – Doing what is right because
                             of fear of punishment
                             Stage 2 Hedonistic Orientation – Doing
                             what is right for personal gain, perhaps a
Level 2                      Stage 3 Interpersonal Concordance
Conventional Morality        Orientation – Doing what is right according
                             to the majority
                             Stage 4 Law & Order Orientation – Doing
                             what is right because it is your duty and
                             helps society. Laws must be obeyed for the
                             common good.
Level 3                      Stage 5 Social Contract or Legalistic
Post-conventional morality   Orientation – Doing what is morally right
                             even if it is against the law because the law
                             is too restrictive.
                             Stage 6 Universal Ethical Principles
                             Orientation – Doing what is right because
                             of our inner conscience which has absorbed
                             the principles of justice, equality and
                             sacredness of human life.

Conclusions: - The evidence does support the idea of a stage theory.
More recent research by Thornton & Reid (1982) with criminal samples
suggests that criminals committing crime for financial gain show more
immature reasoning than those committing violent crimes.


 Evaluation: -
 What are the problems with Kolhberg’s sample?

 Are dilemmas an appropriate way of measuring morality?

 What are the strengths of Kohlberg’s research?

 Does anyone ever reach stage 6?


Social Cognition

We all justify and explain our behaviours using either internal or
external attributions. An internal attribution is when a person accepts
full responsibility for their own behaviour and sees the cause as being
within themselves. An external attribution is when a person sees the
cause of their behaviour as being an external factor, e.g. „I was provoked,
it‟s his fault I hit him‟, „I had a bad childhood‟, „I‟ve got no money, job etc.‟
A criminal is considered rehabilitated when they can fully accept
responsibility for their crime, in other words have an internal
attribution, they accept their guilt.

Gudjohnsson & Bownes (2002) – The attribution of blame and type of
crime committed

Aim: - To examine the relationship between the type of offence and the
attributions offenders make about their criminal acts.

Procedure: - 80 criminals who were serving sentences in Northern
Ireland. 20 had committed violent offences, 40 sex offences and 20
crimes against property. The criminals were asked to fill out a 42-iten
„Blame Attribution Inventory‟ (GBAI).

Findings: -

Mean Scores on GBAI
Type of         Guilt                    Mental Element       External
Offence                                  (Depression          Attribution
Violence                    8.1                5.3                    5.8
Sexual                     12.7                5.7                    2.4
Property                    5.5                4.0                    3.0

Explain these results in words: -


Conclusions: -

Gudjohnsson & Bownes compared these findings to an earlier study
carried out in England and found a high level of consistency for the way
criminals attribute blame for their crimes. There was a higher level of
external attribution for violent crimes in Northern Ireland, but this may
have been because of the „troubles‟ in Northern Ireland in the 1980s and
early 1990s.

 Evaluation: -

 What are the strengths & weaknesses of this study?


Is there any evidence that criminal behaviour has a biological cause?

                                Cesare Lombroso's (1835-1909) theory
                                of anthropological criminology essentially
                                stated that criminality was inherited, and
                                that someone "born criminal"' could be
                                identified by physical defects, which
                                confirmed them as a criminal. The
                                pictures show the characteristics that
                                Lombroso suggested criminals had.

                                Although, this theory now seems
                                ridiculous and outdated, it fitted in with
                                the theories of the time. Remember, at
                                around this time the concepts of Eugenics
                                were gaining in popularity. Hilter‟s ideas
                                of breeding a master race would have
                                included eliminating those with „weak
                                criminal‟ genes!

                                Most modern theories of crime place far
                                more emphasis on environmental factors.

How could environmental factors explain some of the physical
characteristics identified by Lombroso?

Brain Dysfunction

Adrian Raine of the University of Southern California has conducted
research using PET scanning and found abnormalities in some parts of the
brain in violent criminals. He has found that low physiological arousal,
birth complications, fearlessness and increased body size are early
markers for later aggressive behaviour.


Raine (2002) – Understanding the development of antisocial behaviour
in children.

Aim: - To make a multi-factor approach to understanding antisocial and
aggressive behaviour in children.

Procedure: - A meta-analysis of a selection of articles covering
neuropsychological, neurological and brain-imaging studies as they relate
to anti-social behaviour in children.

Findings: -
    A low resting hearty rate is a good predictor of an individual who
      will seek excitement to raise their arousal level, creating a fearless
    The adolescent brain is still forming its final connections in the
      pre-frontal lobe right up until the early twenties.
    Activity in the pre-frontal lobes of impulsive individuals, who are
      more likely to be antisocial and aggressive, is lower
    Birth complications and poor parenting with physical abuse and
      malnutrition, smoking and drinking during pregnancy all add to the
      risk. (This is a strength of this research as it considers other
      factors, not just biology, so it is less reductionist than other

Conclusion: -Raine concludes that early intervention and prevention may
be an effective way of reversing biological deficits that predispose to
antisocial and aggressive behaviour.

 Evaluation: -
 What are the strengths & weaknesses of this study?

 What types of crime can’t be explained by this theory?

Exam Questions
   a) Describe using relevant evidence, any two influences which explain
      why a person turns to crime (10)



                  Price (1966) suggested that males with an extra Y
                  chromosome XYY „supermale‟ were predisposed towards
                  violent crime. Individuals with XYY are above average
                  height and below average intelligence. It might be the
                  latter characteristic (Low intelligence) that accounts for
                  their over representation in prison populations.

Christiansen (1977) looked at 3586 twin pairs in Denmark a 52%
concordance rate for criminality was found for monozygotic (identical)
twins, compared to just 22% for dizygotic (non-identical) twins. However,
we must remember the effects of shared upbringing and if crime really
was genetic we would expect a 100% concordance rate for monozygotic
twins as they share 100% of their genes.

Bruner et al (1993) – A study of violence in a family with genetic

Aim: - A case study on a family from the Netherlands where males were
affected by a syndrome of borderline mental retardation and abnormal
violent behaviour. These included impulsive aggression, arson, attempted
rape and exhibitionism.

Procedure: - 5 affected males were studied. Data was collected from
the analysis of urine samples over a 24 hour period.

Findings: - The tests showed disturbed monoamine metabolism
associated with a deficit of the enzyme monoamine oxidase A (MAOA). A
mutation was identified in the X chromosome of the gene responsible for
the production of MAOA.

Conclusion: - MAOA is involved in serotonin metabolism. Impaired
metabolism of serotonin is likely to be responsible for mental retardation
and this could be linked to aggressive behaviour.

Evaluation: -
This is a very small scale study and therefore cannot be generalised to others.
The condition is also relatively rare. Even in this family not all the males with


the condition were violent, some could control it. This study could be seen as
being both reductionist and determinist. Why?


In all cultures young males appear more often in crime statistics than any
other groups. Although, females do commit crime, the figures are far


The male hormone testosterone has been cited as a factor in male
violence, as it does influence levels of aggression.

Daly & Wilson (2001) noticed that young male offenders had a „short
term horizon‟. This means that these individuals want instant
gratification. They have a short lifespan expectation due to the risky
behaviour that they engage in. Evolutionary theories suggest that the
male role of hunter and protector predisposes them to more risky
behaviour than females.

Daly & Wilson (2001) – Investigation of gender-related life

Aim: - To find out if homicide rates would vary as a function of local life
expectancy in Chicago.

Procedure: - This was a Correlational study using survey data from police
records, school records and local demographic records. Local area
average life expectancies, ranging from 54.3 -77.4 were compared to
homicide rates in those areas.

Findings: - The homicide rates varied from 1.3 to 156 homicides per
100,000 persons per annum in the local area. The correlation between
life expectancy and homicide rate was strong (-0.88), this means that
lower life expectancies were correlated with higher homicide rates,
School absenteeism was also negatively correlated with life expectancy.

Conclusion: - Daly & Wilson concluded that young men from
disadvantaged neighbourhoods expected to live shorter lives and were
therefore more likely to engage in risky behaviour. However, these


findings could be explained by social factors such as poverty and
inequality rather than life expectancy.

 Evaluation: -
 What are the issues with correlations?

 Does this theory explain gender differences?


Biological theories of crime are reductionist and determinist. These
theories can only really explain certain types of crime, mainly violent ones.
There is a danger of labelling individuals before a crime has actually been
committed. However, they are attractive and persuasive because they
offer the possibilities of screening for criminality, intervention
programmes and treatment. In reality, it is the interaction between
upbringing, environment, cognitive processes, and biology and individual
differences between people that influences whether or not they turn to
crime. It must be remembered that everyone has free will; we choose
whether or not to break the law.

This section on reasons for turning to crime clearly illustrates the
nature/nurture debate.

Exam Questions

1a) Describe, using evidence, any two influences that explain why a person
turns to crime. (10)
1b) Using the issue of reductionism, evaluate any two explanations of
crime. (15).


2) Making a Case
Recognising Faces

Task: - Look at these two pictures of Margaret Thatcher and then turn
the page upside down! This is known as the Thatcher illusion. This
illustrates some of the problems with facial recognition.

Being able to accurately identify a face is key to many convictions.
However, cases of mistaken identity show that this is not always as easy
as it seems. Bruce has shown that recognising a familiar face is
something which we are all quite good at, but unfamiliar faces are a
completely different matter.

Sinha et al (2006) found that there are eight important factors involved
when witnesses try to reconstruct a stranger‟s face.

   1. We can recognise familiar faces even when the resolution is low
      (poor quality CCTV)
   2. The more familiar they are the easier it is.
   3. Facial features are processed holistically (all together as a single
      unit). This has implications for piece by piece facial
   4. Eyebrows and hairline are most important features.
   5. Illumination changes influence recognition (the suspect may look
      very different in poor light or side light).
   6. Motion of the face helps recognition (We can better recognise a
      video than a photo).
   7. There appears to be specialised neurones for face recognition.
   8. Face identity and expression may be processed by two different
      systems in the brain.


Facial recognition faces the same problems as other types of memory
recall: -
Delay – Length between event and recall
Exposure mode – Content and cue-dependent memory of the face or
snapshots of intense emotion associated with the face.

Bruce et al (1988) The importance of external and internal features
in facial recognition

Aim: -To investigate the relative recognisability of internal (eyes, brows,
nose and mouth) and external (head shape, hair and ears) features in
facial recognition.

Procedure: -
Experiment 1: - This was an independent measures design with three
conditions. All The participants were given pictures of 10 celebrities, the
task was to match the correct composite image to the celebrity from the
40 composites given. Group 1 were given complete composites, group 2
composites containing only internal features (eyes, nose, mouth) and
group 3 external feature (head shape, hair and ears) composites. Each
face was clean shaven and spectacles were avoided.

Experiment 2: - This experiment used a photo array; the task was to
identify the celebrity composites from the array. The task was made
either easy (very different to target face) or hard (very similar to target
face). Once again the composites were composed of either external or
internal features.

Results: -
Experiment 1: -42% of whole composites and those of external features
were sorted correctly, compared to only 19.5% of internal features.

Experiment 2: - External features were identified 42% of the time,
compared to just 24% of internal features.

Conclusion: - Participants performed at just above chance level for
internal features. Participants performed equally well with both whole
composites and external features. This shows that external features are
more important for facial recognition and that faces are processed
holistically. This has implications for facial reconstructions which involve
witnesses picking internal features from a book. Newer face


reconstruction software takes these finding into account. E-fit or EvoFIT
both change faces holistically.

  Evaluation: -


Factors Influencing Identification
The Weapons Effect

Weapon focus refers to the concentration of a
witness‟s attention on a weapon which results in them
having difficulty recalling other details of the scene and identifying the
perpetrator of the crime.

Loftus et al (1987) Weapon Focus

Aim: - To provide support for the Weapons focus effect when
witnessing a crime.

Procedure: - This was a laboratory experiment. The participants were
36 students from the University of Washington aged 18-31, half were
recruited via advertisements and paid $3.50, the others were psychology
students participating for extra credits. All participants were shown 18
slides of a series of events in a Taco restaurant. For both groups the
slide was the same except for one slide. This slide was the independent
variable. In the control group the second person in the queue hands the
cashier a cheque, in the experimental group the same person pulls a gun
on the cashier. The dependent variable was recognition of that person; it
was measured by a twenty item multiple choice questionnaire. Participants
were also show 12 photos in random sequence and asked to rate how
confident they were of their identification.

Results: - Answers to the questionnaire about the slide show showed no
significant difference between the two groups. In the control condition
(cheque) 38.9% made a correct identification, in the experimental
condition (gun) it was only 11.1%. Eye fixation data showed an average
fixation time of 3.72 secs on the gun, compared to 2.44 secs on the

Conclusion: - The participants spent longer looking at the weapon and
therefore had more difficulty in picking the suspect from the line-up

   Evaluation: -


The Cognitive Interview (CI)
This was based largely on the work of Elizabeth Loftus and other
psychologists, following their theoretical work into memory and EWT.
Forensic psychologists combined various ideas and designed a more
effective way of questioning witnesses that has been shown to produce
more reliable recall of events. Fisher and Geiselman (1992) designed the
cognitive interview.
The technique is based around four main components:

  Stages of the interview                        Why they might work
  1. Report everything: It encourages
  witnesses to report all detail that they
  can remember regardless of how trivial it
  may appear                                     Points one and two are designed to
                                                 reinstate context. They get the witness
                                                 to mentally revisit the scene and
  2. Context reinstatement: It tries to          mentally reconstruct the incident in
  recreate the scene of the incident in the      their mind.
  mind of the witness, this includes the
  sights, sounds and smells but also crucially
  it attempts to model the emotions and          Evidence suggests that we are more
  feelings of the person at the time. This is    likely to recall information if it is in a
  based on the concept of cue dependent          similar context to when it was first
  memory.                                        experienced or learned, so putting
                                                 ourselves in a similar state of mind
                                                 should aid recall.

  3.Recall in reverse order: It encourages
  witnesses to recall events in different
                                                  Points three and four are based on the
  orders, for example starting half way
                                                 idea that once a memory has been
  through a sequence of events and then
                                                 stored there is more than one way of
  working backwards
                                                 getting at it or retrieving it.

  4. Recall from a different perspective:
  It encourages witnesses to view the scene
  as others present may have seen it, for        If one route fails then try another. So
  example as other witnesses, the victim or      if working through from start to finish
  the perpetrator may have seen the              hasn‟t worked try to accessing the
  incident.                                      memory by sneaking up on it from a
                                                 different angle e.g. backwards.


Evidence for the cognitive interview
Geiselman & Fisher (1985) got participants to watch a video of a violent
crime. A few days later they were interviewed in one of 3 ways: standard
police interview, cognitive interview or under hypnosis. The cognitive
interview was found to trigger the most accurate recall.
      Note: hypnosis is not as effective as films would lead us to believe
      (the so-called Hollywood effect). Witnesses often do recall more
      under hypnosis and are more confident in their recall.
      Unfortunately much of what they recall is inaccurate. Additionally,
      their confidence in what they recall can be very influential in court
      room situations, particularly with jurors so is doubly dangerous.
Kohnken et al (1999) carried out a meta-analysis of 53 other studies and
found that the CI could elicit an average of 34% more detail than the
standard interview and crucially without the loss of accuracy you get with
Interestingly, when the four components of the interview are used
individually, e.g. recall in a different order, there is little gain over the
standard interview. It‟s only when two or more components are used that
there is significant improvement in recall. Milne and Bull (2002). The
report everything and context reinstatement combinations appear most
But: it is difficult to compare studies carried out in different countries
and even between different police forces within a country since there are
now so many variations on the CI. For example in the UK the Merseyside
force use pretty much the original Fisher and Geiselman design whereas
Thames Valley Police (Inspector Morse and Lewis no doubt) tend to drop
the „reinstating context.‟
One criticism of the technique is that it tends to be too time-consuming
in practice.
Young children seem to find the instructions confusing and as a result
produce less reliable recall than with standard police interviews.
Geiselman (1999) recommends that the CI is only used on children aged
eight and over.
Fisher et al (1989) – Field test of the cognitive interview

Aim: - To test the cognitive interview in the field
Procedure: - A field experiment was carried, using interviews with real
witnesses by 16 detectives from the Robbery division of Dade County,


Florida, police. Seven of the detectives were trained in the cognitive
interview technique (CI). The interviews were recorded and analysed by a
team at the University of California, who were blind to the conditions (i.e.
they didn‟t know if the interview they were analysing was by a trained CI
detective or not). The amount of information gathered by the two groups
of detectives was collated.
Findings: - 63% more information was obtained by the detectives
trained in CI.
Conclusion: - Cognitive Interview Techniques do seem to work, more
information is gathered. This could help the Police solve more crimes.

 Evaluation: -


Interviewing Suspects

“You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defence if you do
not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in Court.
Anything you do say may be given in evidence”.

Detecting Lies

After arrest the purpose of the interview is to gather further evidence
to establish guilt or innocence. In the British legal system a defendant is
presumed innocent, until proven guilty. Police officers like to think they
are good at detecting lies and are trained to look for body language clues
such as looking down, putting their hands over their mouths, inconsistent
responses etc.

But are police officers good at detecting lies?

In the USA polygraph testing is widely used, but is this any more

Some people are just good liars!!

Mann et al (2004) Police officers’ ability to detect suspects’ lies.

Aim: - To test police officers‟ ability to distinguish truth and lies during
interviews with suspects.

Procedure: - This was a field experiment involving 99 Kent police
officers (24 female and 75 males mean age 34.3). These participants
were shown 54 video clips involving 14 suspects of real-life police
interviews; each clip was backed up by further evidence which established
truth or lie. The clips were of head and torso and ranged in length from
6 to 145 seconds. The participants were asked to fill out questionnaires
about their experiences of detecting liars and decide if each clip was
truthful or a lie. They were also asked to make a note of cues they used
to detect the lies.

Results: - Police Officers performed better than chance (50%) they
were 66.2% accurate on lies and 63.6% accurate on truths. The most
frequently mentioned cues were gaze, movements, vagueness,
contradictions in stories and fidgeting.


Conclusion: - The police officers were good at detecting lies. However,
to establish whether they were any better than the general public would
require a control group. This study could not have had a control group
because of issues of confidentiality and privacy (the clips were real police
 Evaluation: -

Interrogation Techniques

An interrogation is different to an interview because it is accusatory.
The investigator starts by telling the suspect that there is no doubt as
their guilt. It usually takes place after an interview. An interrogation is
designed to increase arousal and anxiety. The Police and Criminal Evidence
Act (PACE) (1984) requires all interviews to be recorded in triplicate, one
for the police, one for the solicitor and one for the court, to ensure
evidence cannot be tampered with.


Inbau et al (1986) The Reid ‘nine steps’ of interrogation

   1. Direct Confrontation
   2. Chance to shift blame (either to some else or circumstances)
   3. Never allow the suspect to deny guilt
   4. Ignore excuses
   5. Reinforce sincerity, eye contact, first names
   6. If suspect cries, infer guilt
   7. Pose the „alternative question‟ – give two choices, one more socially
      acceptable, but both inferring guilt
   8. Admit guilt in front of witness
   9. Document admission

 Evaluation: -
 Can these techniques be justified?

 What type of offender might be particularly vulnerable?

 Could they lead to false confessions?


False Confessions

Kassin & Wrightsman (1985) suggest that there are three types of false
confession: -
    The „voluntary confession‟ – no obvious external pressure
    The ‟coerced compliant confession‟ – after forceful or persistent
      questioning the suspect confesses to escape the interview
    The „coerced internalised confession‟ where the suspect becomes
      temporarily persuaded that they are guilty.
Persuasion is possible because are memories are fragile and susceptible,
especially when we are in an anxious and vulnerable state. Some groups
are more susceptible to this pressure than others: - the young, the
mentally ill, those with a low IQ etc.

Gudjohnsson et al (1990) – A case of false confession

Aim: - to document a case of false confession of a youth who was at the
time distressed and susceptible to interrogative pressure.

Procedure: - This was a case study of FC a 17 year old youth who was
accused of two murders. In 1987 two elderly women were found battered
to death in their home, their saving‟s were missing and they had been
sexually assaulted. FC was arrested because of inconsistencies in
accounts of his movements during an earlier routine enquiry and because
he was spending more money than usual. There was no forensic evidence
to link him to the case.
       During the interview he was repeatedly accused of lying, the
questioning was leading and accusatory and the police suggested he was
sexually impotent. He found this very distressing and after 14 hours of
aggressive questioning without a break FC confessed. He retracted his
confession the next day, only to confess again under pressure about his
failure to have successful relationships with women. In prison he was
assessed by psychiatrists who found no evidence of mental illness, an IQ
of 94 and a score of 10 (very high) on the Gudjohnsson Suggestibility
Scale. After a year in jail he was released when another person pleaded
guilty to the crime.

Conclusion: - This is a clear case of „coerced compliant false confession‟.
He gave in to pressure to escape from the interview situation.


Creating a Profile
Top-down Typology

The phrase top-down refers to an approach which starts with the big
picture and then fills in the details, this contrasts with a bottom-up
approach which starts with details and creates the big picture. Both of
these approaches have been used to build up profiles of crimes to aid
police in solving crimes and apprehending criminals. Both have flaws, in
reality it will depend on the situation and type of crime as to which
approach is used.

In 1980 Hazelwood and Douglas published their account of the „lust
murderer‟, they advanced a theory that lust murderers are many
catergorised by two types: - Organised and disorganised. This is an
example of a top-down typology.

Task: - What are the issues with building offender profiles? Do they
help or hinder the police in their search for perpetrators of crime?

An organised offender leads an ordered life and kills after some sort of
critical life event. Their actions are premeditated and planned, they are
likely to bring weapons and restraints to the scene. They are likely to be
of average to high intelligence and employed.

A disorganised offender is more likely to have committed the crime in a
moment of passion. There will be no evidence of premeditation and they
are more likely to leave evidence such as blood, semen, murder weapon
etc. behind. This type of offender is thought to be less socially
competent and more likely to be unemployed.


Canter et al (2004) Investigation of the organised/disorganised
theory of serial murder.

Aim: - To test the reliability of organised/disorganised typologies.

Procedure: - A content analysis of 100 cases of serial killers from the
USA. The third crime committed by each serial killer was analysed using
The Crime Classification Manual (Douglas et al 1992).

Results: - Twice as many disorganised as organised crime-scenes were
identified. In 70% of cases the body was concealed and in 75% of cases
sexual activity occurred. Further analysis failed to reveal any significant
differences between organised and disorganised variables.

Conclusion: - Canter concluded that instead of their being a distinction
between two types of serial murder, all of the crimes had to have an
organised element to them as they hadn‟t been caught after three
killings. It would be better to look at personality variables.

 Evaluation: -


Bottom up approaches
Canter (1990) is the UK‟s foremost profiling expert, his bottom-up
approach looks for consistencies in offenders‟ behaviour during the crime.
No initial assumptions are made about the offender and the approach
relies heavily on computer databases. It can be the little details that are
often overlooked that can be crucial to the success of a case.
Canter’s most famous case is that of the „Railway Rapist‟ John Duffy.

Canter & Heritage (1990) Developments in offender profiling

Aim: - To identify a behaviour pattern from similarities between

Methodology: - A content analysis was carried out on 66 sexual offences
from various police forces committed by 27 offenders. The data was
subjected to Canter‟s smallest space analysis (a computer programme
devised by Canter)

Results: - Five variables were found to be central to the 66 cases: -
    Vaginal Intercourse
    No reaction to the victim
    Impersonal Language
    Surprise Attack
    Victim‟s clothing disturbed.
This suggests a pattern of behaviour where the attack is impersonal and
sudden and the victim‟s response is irrelevant to the offender.

Conclusions: - This has become known as the five factor theory. These
five aspects have now been shown to contribute to all sexual offences,
but in different patterns for different individuals. An analysis of these
factors can enable Police to decide if an offence has been committed by
the same individual.

 Evaluation: -

Case Study


Case Study
Canter – John Duffy - The Railway Rapist.

                             Between 1975 and 1986 23 women were
                             raped aged between 15 and 32 at railway
                             stations in and around London. Canter
                             became interested in the case after reading
                             reports in the Evening Standard. In the
                             early 1980s two police officers were
                             appointed to help him draw up an offender
                             profile. It was already know that an
                             accomplice involved in the crimes. Canter
                             placed all the cases on a map and this allowed
him to speculate about where the rapist might live. He categorised
perpetrators as „marauders‟ or „commuters‟. Depending on whether they
strike from within their home base „marauders‟ or travel away from home

Prelimary Profile

    Has lived in the areas circumscribed by the first three cases since
    Probably lived in that area at the time of the arrest
    Probably lives with a wife or girlfriend, possibly with no children.
Age etc.
    Mid to late twenties
    Light hair
    About 5 feet 9 inches
    Right-handed
    Probably semi-skilled or skilled involving weekend work or casual
      labour from July 1984 onwards
    His job most likely does not bring him into contact with the public
    Keeps himself to himself, but has one or two close men friends and
      probably very little contact with women, especially in the work
    Has knowledge of the railway system, along which the attacks


Sexual activity
   The variety of his sexual actions suggests considerable sexual

Criminal record
    Was probably arrested some time between 24 October 1982 and
      January 1984 and this may have had nothing to do with rape, but
      having been aggressive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

This profile represents the first attempt to use behavioural
characteristics to search for a criminal instead of purely forensic
evidence from the crime scene.

In November 2000 John Duffy who was serving life for the rape and
murder of several women, confessed that he was responsible for many
more and that he committed some with an accomplice David Mulcahy. He
was the Railway rapist.

John Duffy had been interviewed by the police for an unrelated offence,
a „domestic‟ against his ex-wife. He was one of 2000 suspects connected
to the crime by their blood groups. He lived in Kilburn North London, had
worked on the railways as a carpenter and was the right age. The profile
did fit on these criterion.

However, Duffy was a lot shorter than victims remembered and many had
described him as having black or even ginger hair. But police, suggest
that the „weapons effect‟ may have played apart as he threatened victims
with a knife.

Evaluation: - Profiles can be useful, but police must be careful not to be
blinded to other possibilities by them. Occasionally criminals do not fit the
profile. Over use could lead to miscarriages of justice.
Task: - If you are interested in learning more about profiling read The
Jigsaw Man by Paul Britton

Exam Questions
1a) Outline any relevant research which can inform us about how a witness
should be interviewed (10)
1b) Evaluate the methodology used to investigate the interviewing of
witnesses (15)
2a) Describe one approach to offender profiling. (10)
2b) Assess the effectiveness of offender profiling. (15)


3) Reaching a Verdict

The courtroom is very important in the British
Criminal Justice system. Minor cases are dealt with
by the local Magistrates Court, all other cases are
referred by the Magistrates to the Crown Court.
There is usually a Magistrates Court in each major
town (Atherstone & Nuneaton) and a Crown Court in
major cities (Birmingham & Leicester). Anyone has
the right to watch a criminal trial, and you might like
to go to the local Magistrates Court to experience
this. However, be warned it is not like the TV and
can be very boring!

The British Justice System was first enshrined in law by the Magna
Carta. It is an adversarial system, where two sides (the prosecution and
the defence) argue the case in front of judge and jury. A jury consists
of 12 ordinary members of the public. Everyone over 18 on the electoral
right is eligible for jury service (normally two weeks), except prisoners,
ex-prisoners and those with mental illness. Jurors are only paid
expenses. On arrival at Court jurors are allocated randomly to
courtrooms and take an oath to try the defendant fairly. Both the
prosecution and the defence have the right to reject jurors if they think
they could be biased. After the jury has listened to all the evidence, the
judge instructs them on procedures and verdicts and the jury retires to
reach a decision. Jury‟s have to come to a majority decision.

Persuading a Jury

                              It is the job of the prosecution is to
                              persuade a jury that a defendant is guilty
                              and the defence to persuade that the
                              defendant is not guilty. However, many
                              other factors may influence this.

                              Effects of Order of Testimony
                              Murdoch (1962) in a laboratory study using
                              word lists discovered an effect know as the
                              Primacy effect, where words at the
                              beginning of a list were more likely to be


recalled. This would suggest that the prosecution had an advantage, as
this evidence is always given first. However, later research by Glanzer &
Cunitz (1966) discovered the primacy/recency effect, where
participants recall words from the beginning and end of a list, but forget
the middle. This would suggest that the most important pieces of
information are at the beginning of the trial (prosecution statement) and
end (judge‟s summing up).

In light of the above, careful consideration must be given to the order in
which information is presented in court. Is it best to present information
in strict story order (from the beginning to the end in chronological order
of events) or should the best witnesses be presented first or last to take
advantage of the primacy/recency effect? Research by Pennington &
Hastie (1988) shows that story order is best, any other order can be
confusing for the jury.

Pennington & Hastie (1988) – Effects of memory structure on

Aims: - To investigate whether or not story order evidence summaries
are true causes of the final verdict and the extent to which story order
affects confidence in those verdicts.

Procedure: - 130 students from Northwestern University and Chicago
University were paid to participate in an hour long experiment. They
were allocated to one of four conditions: -

39 prosecution items (guilty) in      39 defence items (not guilty) in
story order                           story order

39 prosecution items (guilty) in      39 defence items (not guilty) in
witness order                         witness order

All participants listened to a tape recording of the stimulus trial
(Massachusetts v Caldwell), where asked to respond to written questions,
decide if the defendant was guilty or not guilty and rate their confidence
in their own decision on a five point scale.


Results: -
Table to show % of participants giving a guilty verdict
                       Defence Story Order Defence Witness
Prosecution Story      59                        78
Prosecution Witness    31                        63

The greatest level of confidence in verdicts was expressed by those who
heard the defence or prosecution in story order, the lowest level was by
the group who heard both witness order prosecution and defence.

Conclusion: - This shows that presenting the case in story order has a
persuasive effect. In this study the effect in the defence case was much
smaller. However, Pennington & Hastie argue that in the case they chose
the defence case was much less plausible (the victim was drunk and
lunged forwards onto the assailant‟s knife!)

  Evaluation: -



Expert witnesses are widely used in criminal trials to add scientific
credence to evidence. From the research by Loftus et al we know that
eye witness testimony is notoriously unreliable. Psychologists such as
Loftus are often called as expert witnesses for the defence to warn
jurors of the possible problems with eye witness testimony. However,
research has shown that jurors tend to disregard these warning and still
believe eye witness accounts.

Cutler et al (1989) – The effect of the expert witness on jury
perception of eyewitness testimony

Aims: - To investigate whether hearing about psychological research
from an expert witness which casts doubt on the accuracy of eye witness
testimony would affect a juror‟s decision-making by making them more

Procedure: - 538 undergraduates viewed a videotaped mock trial of a
robbery. Afterwards they individually completed a questionnaire,
containing the dependent measures which were verdict, a memory test
and rating scales of how confident they were in their verdict. There
were four independent variables: -

   1. Witness Identifying Conditions (WIC). These were either good (no
      disguise, a hidden gun, a 2-day delay in identification and no
      suggestive instructions during the line-up) or bad (robber
      disguised, handgun, 14-day delay and suggestive instructions during
   2. Witness confidence. Witness said they were either 100% or 80%
      confident that their identification was correct.
   3. Form of testimony. Expert witness either gave a descriptive
      testimony about EWT or relied on % and figures.
   4. Expert Opinion. The expert expressed an opinion on a scale of 0-
      25 on the accuracy of the testimony, this coincided with the good
      or bad WIC in variable 1.

Results: -
   1. Jurors verdicts. When WIC was good, more guilty verdicts were
      given and this effect increased if the expert witness gave a
      descriptive testimony.


   2. Juror memory. 85% correctly recalled the testimony, so poor
      memory cannot be blamed.
   3. Juror Confidence. This was good in the good WIC condition. It
      was stronger if the witness was 100% and increased if the expert
      witness also expressed confidence.

Conclusion: - This experiment shows that the expert testimony improved
jurors‟ knowledge and made them pay more attention to WIC. With
expert testimony, juror sensitivity to problems with evidence is improved
and may help to prevent miscarriages of justice.

 Evaluation: -


Effect of evidence being ruled inadmissible

The law says that in order for evidence to be admissible in court, its
relevance must outweigh its potential for prejudice. Inadmissible
evidence includes hearsay, past convictions and evidence obtained by
illegal means. If inadmissible evidence is presented in error by a witness,
the judge will direct the jury to disregard what they have just heard.
However, by drawing their attention to it, it may be that the jury in fact
pays even more attention to it. This is know as reactance theory and
suggests that jurors perceive instructions to ignore evidence as
undermining their freedom to take all evidence into account

Pickel (1995) – Investigating the effect of instructions to disregard
inadmissible evidence

Aims: -
   1. To look at the effect of prior convictions.
   2. To look at the role of the judge‟s instructions when they were
      followed by a legal explanation.
   3. To examine how much the credibility of the witness affects the
      juror‟s ability to ignore inadmissible statements.

Procedure: - 236 Bali State University students took part in the study.
There were two conditions; both groups listened to an audio tape of a
mock trial. Critical evidence was introduced „accidentally‟ by a witness,
this was objected to and the judge ruled that it was inadmissible and that
the jury should ignore it. In one condition this was followed by a legal
explanation of why the evidence was inadmissible, in the second condition
this explanation was omitted. Participants were asked to decide on the
verdict, the probable guilt of the defendant, a 10-point scale on the
effect of knowledge of prior convictions and the credibility of the

Results: -Mock jurors who heard the evidence ruled inadmissible, but
received no legal explanation were able to ignore it and found the
defendant guilty.

Those who heard the evidence rules inadmissible and were given a legal
explanation were less likely to find the defendant guilty and had clearly
not been able to ignore it.


The credibility of the witness and knowledge of prior convictions had no
significant effect.

Conclusion: - It would seem that calling attention to inadmissible
evidence makes it more important to the jury and they pay it more

 Evaluation: -


Witness Appeal
Attractiveness of the defendant

According to Dion et al physically attractive people are assumed to have
other attractive properties. This is known as the Halo effect. Efran
(1974) found good look criminals received lighter sentences or penalties
unless their looks were involved in the crime e.g. toy boys conning rich old
ladies. This is why a defendant is advised to turn up smartly dressed,
clean and tidy for their day in court, appearances do matter.

Castellow et al (1990) – The effects of physical attractiveness on
jury verdicts.

Aims: - To test the hypothesis that an attractive defendant is less likely
to be seen as guilty, that the more attractive the victim is the more likely
the defendant is to be seen as guilty and lastly to look for gender
differences in these effects.

Procedure: - 71 male and 74 female students from East Carolina
University participated in the study. It was a laboratory study with an
independent measures design (attractive or unattractive). All
participants were asked to read a sexual harassment case, attached were
pictures of the defendant and the victim, these were either attractive or
unattractive (attractive defendant, unattractive victim and vice versa).
The dependent variable was their answer to the question “Do you think
Mr Radford is guilty of sexual harassment?” They were also asked to
rate both defendant and victim on 11 bipolar personality scales such as
dull-exciting, nervous-calm etc.

Results: - Attractive defendants were found guilty 56% of the time,
unattractive defendants 76% of the time.
When the victim was attractive the guilty verdict was 77%,
Unattractive victim 55%.
Attractive defendants and victims were also rated positively on
personality variables.
There was no significant gender difference.

Conclusion: - Looks do matter!!!!!

Evaluation: -


Witness Confidence

Giving evidence in Court is a nerve-racking experience and it would be
completely understandable for witnesses to appear nervous and hesitate
when answering questions. However, jurors may perceive this nervousness
as evidence of being unsure or even worse lying. When a witness appears
confident, jury‟s tend to have more confidence in what they hear.

Penrod & Cutler (1995) – The effects of witness confidence on jurors’
assessment of eyewitness evidence

Aims: - To examine several factors, including confidence, that jurors
might consider when evaluating eyewitness identification evidence.

                        Procedure: - The study involved showing a
                        videotaped mock trial of a robbery to
                        participants, who included undergraduate
                        students and experienced jurors. There were 10
                        independent variables which were manipulated,
                        but we will focus on just one – witness
                        confidence. Eyewitness identification was key to
                        the trial; the witness testified that she was
                        either 80 or 100% confident that she had
                        identified the robber.

Results: -
Witness Confidence about ID           % Conviction
100% Confident                        67
80% Confident                         60

The more confident the witness was, the more likely the jury were to
believe them.

Conclusion: - Further studies by Cutler et al have shown that the
correlation between accuracy and confidence is very weak (0.00 - 0.02).
But jury‟s do tend to believe it, even when the judge advises them to be
wary in the summing up.

Evaluation: -


Effect of shields and videotape on children giving evidence

In many cases involving sexual abuse, kidnapping or domestic violence a
child is the only victim. The courtroom procedures can be very stressful
and traumatic for children. Sometimes children are allowed to give
evidence from behind a screen or via a video link to reduce this stress.
However, many defence counsels have argued that this is prejudicial to
the defendant as it may appear to the jury that the child is in need of
protection, suggesting that the defendant is indeed guilty.

Ross et al (1994) - The impact of protective shields and videotape
testimony on conviction rates

Aims: - 1. To find out if the use of protective shields and videotaped
testimony increases the likelihood of a guilty verdict.
2. To investigate the effects of protective devices on jury reaction to
testimony – do the experience credibility inflation (more likely to believe)
or deflation (less likely to believe).

Procedure: - A mock trial based on an actual court transcript was set up.
Three versions were filmed by a film crew, with actors playing the roles.
In the first version the child actor gave evidence in open court, in the
second from behind a screen and in the third via a video link. 300
psychology students (equally split on gender) were recruited, 100 were
assigned to each condition. All of the participants watched their version
of a two-hour film of the case of alleged child abuse. The film included
the child‟s father as the accused (alleged abuse was a single touch in the
bath, the case focussed on whether it was innocent or sexual), the
mother, two expert witnesses (one for each side) and the child herself.
The judge in the case read a warning before the use of the screen or
video tape directing the jury not to imply guilt by their use. The
participants were asked for their verdicts and asked about the credibility
of the defendant and the child witness.

Results: -

                   Open Court          Shield             Video
Guilty%                  51                     46                49
Not Guilty%              49                     54                51


There was no significant difference between the three conditions.
However 58.6% of females found the defendant guilty, compared to just
38.6% of males.

The same pattern emerged for credibility; there was no difference
across the three conditions. However, once again there was a gender
difference, females rated the defendant as less credible and the child as
more credible.

Conclusion: - This study suggests that when judge‟s warnings are given
there is no disadvantage to the defendant in the use of shields and
videotape. However, in a 2nd study carried out by Ross et al when the
tape was stopped immediately after the child testified, a guilty verdict
was more likely in the Open court condition – but this was an artificial
situation, real cases run their full course.

 Evaluation: -


Reaching a Verdict
Stages in Decision Making

At the end of a trial the jury return to the courtroom to give their
verdict. How do they reach that verdict? The problem for researchers
is that juries are swore to secrecy about their deliberations, which take
place behind closed doors, even after the trial, they are prohibited by law
from discussing it. This means that researchers have to rely on mock
trials and reconstructions to investigate jury behaviour. Some of the
influences include size of the jury, cognitive processes, pre-trial
publicity, ethnicity, gender, individual differences, leadership and the
social processes which influence decision making such as majority and
minority influence.

Hastie et al (1983) argues that jury discussions go through the
following stages.

Orientation Period                Relaxed & open discussion
                                  Set the agenda
                                  Raise questions and explore facts
                                  Different opinions arise
Open Confrontation                Fierce debate
                                  Focus on detail
                                  Explore different interpretations
                                  Pressure on the minority to conform
                                  Support for the group decision is
Reconciliation                    Attempts to smooth over conflicts
                                  Tension released through humour


Consider the following points: -

   1. What outside factors might affect a jury‟s decision making?
   2. Do you think confrontation is always necessary in order to come to
      a verdict?
   3. Is locking people in a room until they come to a unanimous decision
      a good idea?


Majority Influence

Solomon Asch conducted a classic experiment on conformity to find out
whether people would still conform when the correct answer was obvious.

The aim of this study was to find out how people would behave when given
an unambiguous task. Would they be influenced by the behaviour of
others, or would they stick firmly to what they knew to be right? How
much conformity to majority influence would there be?

    In total, 123 American male undergraduates (students) were
    Asch showed a series of lines (the „standard‟ line and the possible
      answers) to participants seated around a table.

       Standard line                     A          B           C
      This happened in groups of 7-9 participants but only one was naïve
       (a real participant). The others were confederates (insiders) of
       the researcher.

                                              The confederates were
                                              told to give the same
                                              incorrect answer on 12
                                              critical trials.
                                             In total there were 18
                                              trials      with       each
                                              participant:      In    the
                                              first      two       trials-
                                              confederates answered
                                              correctly, and then 16
                                              more trials, in 12
                                              critical     trials     the
       confederates gave wrong answers and 4 more where confederates
       gave correct answers.


The crucial measure was how often naïve participants gave the same
wrong answer as the confederates on the critical trials. This was a
measure of conformity. Overall, there was a 32% conformity rate. In
other words, participants agreed with the wrong answer on about a third
of the critical trials. But there were important individual differences.
For example, no one conformed on all the critical trials, and about 25%
didn‟t conform even once.       About 75% conformed at least once.
Participants appeared to be experiencing a lot of stress through the
experiment (e.g. nervous laughter, fidgeting)
Just to confirm that the lines were unambiguous, Asch conducted a
control trial with no confederates giving wrong answers. Asch found that
people do make mistakes about 1% of the time.

Because the answers on the critical trials were obviously incorrect, Asch‟s
study shows the impact that a majority can have on an individual. It shows
a surprisingly strong tendency to conform to group pressure. However,
the majority does not have the same impact on every individual.

For Asch the important finding was that there was any conformity at all.
However, Asch also saw the fact that on two thirds of the trials his
participants had remained independent as clear evidence of how people
could resist the pressure to conform.

Why did participants conform in Asch’s study?
Asch interviewed some of his participants and found that they tended to
give one of three reasons:
    Distortion of perception- they really did think their wrong answers
       were right
    Distortion of judgement- they felt doubt about the accuracy of
       their judgement and therefore yielded to the majority view
    Distortion of action- they didn‟t want to be ridiculed and
       therefore went along with the group.

Those who didn‟t conform said that either they were confident in their
answer or they thought that the majority was probably right but they
still had to say what they saw.


1. Ethical issues raised in this study
Deception and lack of informed consent
Which aspects of this experiment did the participants not know the truth
about? This is deception.

To some extent our objections can be overcome if the researchers properly
informed the participants after the experiment (during debriefing) and offered
them the right to withhold their data from the study.

In Asch’s experiment the naïve participants may have found the experience
quite distressing. Those who conformed must have experienced pressure to
do so and may have felt distress at having behaved like ‘sheep’. Those who
resisted were also under pressure.

   2. What does this study actually tell us about real life?
Asking people to judge the length of lines is an insignificant, trivial task and
one where they would probably be willing to conform to save face. On a more
important task we would expect conformity levels to drop. Hopefully, a jury
would think much more carefully about a situation and not simply conform to
majority influence. In real life, situations are rarely as clear-cut.

Also, the fact that the participants had to answer out loud and in a group of
strangers means that there were special pressures on them to conform, such
as not wanting to sound stupid and wanting to be accepted by the group. The
findings only tell us about conformity in special circumstances.

 So, why set up such an artificial situation? Because it allows us to
  examine pure group pressure. Everything else that might encourage
  conformity has been stripped away.

    3. Is the study a ‘child of its time’?
Asch’s experiments were conducted in the 1950s in the USA. Can the results
be generalised to other times and other places? The relatively high level of
conformity in Asch’s research was seen by some as a reflection of American
society in the 1950s. This was a time when non-conformity was discouraged.
The McCarthy ‘witch hunt’ investigations into so-called un-American activities
hounded anybody suspected of communist sympathies, accusing them of
treason. Thousands lost their jobs and hundreds were imprisoned for failing
to conform to the ‘American Way’. There is some evidence to suggest that
Asch’s results may, in part, reflect the society of his day. Perrin and Spencer
(1980) tried to repeat Asch’s study in England in the lat 1970s. They found
only one student conformed on 396 trials. However, these were science


students who may have felt more confident about their ability to estimate line

Can Asch’s findings be generalised to other places? Different societies have
different cultures. Culture is learned, shared behaviour of members of a
society. It includes norms, values and attitudes. To some extent, people from
different cultures see the world in different ways. The importance placed on
conformity may differ from culture to culture. If so, we need to understand the
culture in order to understand the results of experiments.

Asch’s experiments have been replicated (done again) in 13 countries outside
the USA. Conformity levels vary e.g. 14% in Belgium to 51% in Zimbabwe
(Smith and Bond 1993), thus showing cultural differences.


Minority Influence

So far we have considered majority influence- the pressures on the
minority to conform to the views and behaviour of the majority.
However, what about the minority influencing the majority?
Minority influence occurs when a minority rejects the established
norm of the majority of group members and gets the majority to
move to the position of the minority.

History has shown just how powerful minorities can be. Think of two

Minority influence is the result of INFORMATIONAL SOCIAL
INFLUENCE- the desire to be right. In contrast, majority influence
might be due to public compliance (NORMATIVE SOCIAL INFLUENCE)
that is just passively going along with the majority to fit in or it might be
due to INFORMATIONAL SOCIAL INFLUENCE- the desire to be right,
thus acceptance of the majority view.

Key Study: Moscovici (1969)

To examine minority influence. In particular, to compare the impact of a
consistent minority and an inconsistent minority on the views of the
majority. Moscovici proposed that the minority must be consistent in its
views and that this consistency will create conflict in the others, leading
them to question and possibly change their views. This experiment aimed
to test the effects of consistency where the task is clear cut-

    All participants were female because Moscovici
      thought that they would be more interested in
      a task that involved identifying colour!
    The participants were given eye tests to
      ensure they were not colour blind. They were
      then placed in a group of 6, 4 participants and
      2 confederates.


      They were shown 36 slides which were clearly different shades of
       blue and asked to state the colour of each slide out loud.
      The use of filters varied the colour intensity of each slide.
      Participants were told that the experiment was about colour
      In the first part of the experiment the confederates were
       consistent, they answered green for each of the slides.
      In the second part of the experiment, they were inconsistent, they
       answered green 24 times and blue 12 times.
      There were also control groups with no confederates.

Control group: no confederates
Only 0.25% of the control group‟s answers were green, the rest were
Inconsistent minority condition:
1.25% of the participants‟ answers were green
Consistent minority condition
8.42% of the participants‟ answers were green.

Moscovici experiment suggests that minorities can influence majorities.
However, it indicates that this influence is much more effective when the
minority are consistent in their response. When the minority gave
inconsistent answers they were largely ignored by the majority.
Why is consistency important? According to Moscovici when the minority
are consistent they speak with a single voice and give the impression they
are convinced they are right. As a result they appear confident and thus
are taken seriously by the majority. Thus, minority influence is based on
informational social influence- providing the majority with new ideas that
cause them to re-examine their views.


1. Ethical issues:
Deception and lack of consent
It was necessary to deceive participants about the purpose of the experiment
in order to investigate the hypotheses. Participants were told the true purpose
at the end of the experiment, which makes up for the deception. As the
deception was relatively harmless and the tasks did not involve undue stress,
this is acceptable.


   2. Sample
Since the experiment involved female undergraduates, how far can these
results be generalised?

   3. Group size
There were only 6 people in total in each group, 2 confederates and 4
participants. This is quite small for a ‘majority’. If the group had been bigger,
less minority effect might have been the found.

   4. Usefulness
As one of the first attempts to demonstrate minority influence it is useful.
But, as with Asch’s experiments, the experimental task was very artificial. So,
the experiment may lack ecological validity.

The characteristics of the groups involved in lab experiments such as
Moscovici can also be criticised for being unrealistic. The participants in lab
experiments are rarely ‘real’ groups. More often than not they are a collection
of students who do not know each other and will probably never meet again.
As such they are very different from minority groups in wider society who seek
to change majority opinion. E.g. Greenpeace members are committed to a
cause, provide support for each other and devote their lives to changing

Lab experiments cannot replicate the wide differences in power and status
that often separate minorities and majorities in the real world. History is
littered with examples of how majorities crush minorities who attempt to
express their views. A lack of power is often linked to lack of social status.
Ethnic minorities, women, gays, the poor and the underprivileged tend to have
low status in society. As a result their views are often ignored.

When minorities do triumph in real life, it is not simply because they were
consistent. Often their influence results from massive protests e.g. civil rights
demonstrations in USA 1950s and 1960s.

Therefore we need to see lab experiments as providing important insights but
must also remember the social contexts in which real minorities exist.


Clark (1994) 12 Angry Men

To examine minority influence in a jury

Student participants were asked to read a
transcript of the arguments presented in the film ’Twelve Angry Men’.
In the film, all but one member of a jury initially believed that a
defendant in a murder trial is guilty. Slowly the one juror (played by
Henry Fonda) changes the minds of the others because of his consistent
and unwavering conviction about the man‟s innocence. In the experiment
some participants were just given Henry Fonda‟s arguments to read,
whereas others were told how he gradually changed the minds of the
other jury members.

Social influence occurred in both groups but was strongest where the
participants read the arguments (minority influence) and knew that
others eventually conformed (majority influence).

Clark concluded that two possible factors increased minority influence:
   1. The minority refuted the majority arguments thus showing them to
       be incorrect.
   2. Desertion by the majority members to the minority position.
The minority was most effective when these factors were combined-
refuting majority arguments and desertion by majority members.

Other factors affecting minority influence?

Apart from consistency, refuting arguments and desertion by majority
members, other factors affecting minority influence are:

   1. Group Identification: people tend to identify with people they see
      as similar to themselves. E.g. men tend to identify with men.
      Research indicates that if the majority identify with the minority
      then they are more likely to take the views of the minority
      seriously and change their own views. For example Maass et al
      1982 found that a gay minority arguing for gay rights had less


      influence on a straight majority than a straight minority arguing
      for gay rights.

   2.Power & Social Status: the more power and status the minority
   have the more influence they can exert over others.

Task: - Discuss how minority and majority influence might work in a jury
situation. Think about the role of expert witnesses in trials – how does
this relate to minority influence?

  Evaluation: -

  Because of issues of confidentiality and law, all research on jury decision
  making is based on mock trials. This means that the research seriously
  lacks ecological validity. One would hope that real life jurors take their
  responsibilities much more seriously than research participants. Clark’s
  study has less validity than most because it is based on the transcript of
  a film, a ‘Hollywood’ version of a criminal trial!

Exam Questions
a) Discuss relevant research which informs us about how a jury reaches
its verdict. (10)
b) Discuss the problems of conducting research into courtroom behaviour.


4) After a Guilty Verdict

Once a guilty verdict has been announced the defendant becomes part of
the penal system and is an offender. The penal system has two aims: -
Punishment and rehabilitation. Effectiveness is measured by looking at
recidivism rates, this means re-offending rates. If the punishment and
rehabilitation has been successful the offender should not reoffend.

Task: - In groups discuss why rehabilitation and punishment might not
be effective. What barriers to success are there?

In the summer of 2007 the UK prison population reached an all time high
of 81,000, despite having an official capacity of only 78,000, leading to
serious overcrowding.

What are the implications of this?

In order for prison to work, prisoners must be educated and made more
employable, to ensure they are more likely to remain out of prison and
instead contribute to society. Otherwise, prisons become simply
„Universities of crime‟.

Research has shown (Prison Reform Trust 2007) that many prisoners have
not reached the levels of literacy and numeracy expected of average 11
year old; 50% in reading, 66% in numeracy and 80% in reading. 50% do
not have the skills required by 96% of all jobs and 50% have been
excluded from school. These statistics make prisoners, along with their
criminal records, virtually unemployable without successful educational
intervention within the prison system.

Many people are critical of the parole system (the fact that prisoners are
often released early and rarely serve their full sentence); however, this
is an important incentive, crucial to the smooth operation of the prison
system. Applications for parole are allowed after a minimum term (set by
the judge) has been served. Success will depend on the nature of the
offence, the judge‟s comments on sentencing and crucially the inmate‟s
behaviour in prison. This gives the prisoner an incentive to behave and


comply with prison rules, without this incentive many inmates would be

The theory of planned behaviour applied to an offender’s likelihood of
‘going straight’ – Azjen (1988)

Attitude to

Subjective                Intention                  Behaviour
norm                      (not to                    (staying out
‘Crime is                 reoffend)                  of prison)
not normal’


Azjen’s theory is that a prisoner‟s positive intention to stay out of prison
is key to success. This intention will be influenced by the prisoner‟s
personality, their beliefs about the value of their life outside of prison
and their sense of control over their destiny. In reality it is not that

What other factors might affect re-offending?


Gillis & Nafekh (2005) – The impact of Community-based employment
on offender reintegration.

Aims: - To investigate the effect on recidivism rates of a community-
based employment scheme.

Procedure: - A content analysis of data from Canada‟s Offender
Management System was completed on 23,525 individuals released
between January 1998 and January 2005 (95% were male). A matched
pairs design was used were offenders were matched for gender, risk
level, release year, sentence length, family/marital relations, substance
abuse, emotional orientation, community functioning and attitudes. The
two groups that were compared on outcomes were those employed prior
to release on a special programme for offenders and those that were

Findings: - Those on the employment programme were more likely to
remain on conditional release (i.e. not sent back to prison) and less likely
to return to custody with a new offence. At the end of the study period
70% of the employed group remained out of prison, compared to just 55%
of the unemployed group. Median return time (to jail) was also longer for
the employed group (37 months, compared to 11 months).

Conclusions: - Employment programmes do work and do reduce the
likelihood of re-offending.

 Evaluation: -

Alternative to Imprisonment
Treatment Pro


Depression and suicide risk in prison.

According to the Howard League for Penal Reform there were 92
unnatural deaths in prisons in 2007, with a further 100 resuscitated. At
any one time there are 1500 prisoners on suicide watch.

Task: - Discuss in groups what factors influence this.

Dooley (1990) – Unnatural Deaths in Prisons

Aims: - To investigate all unnatural deaths that occurred in prisons in
England & Wales between 1972 and 1987

Procedure: - A content analysis of Prison Department records. A
checklist that included social, psychiatric and forensic history was used
to analyse the data. The groups recorded as suicide were compared to
those not recorded as suicide.

Findings: - 442 unnatural deaths were recorded, 300 were recorded as
suicide. The remained 142 were recorded with a variety of verdicts
(mainly misadventure), including 52 from consciously self-inflicted injury
(CSI). More of the suicide group were on remand (not yet sentenced) and
more of the CSI group were female. Most deaths occurred at night.

Conclusions: - The increase in suicide and unnatural deaths is attributed
to overcrowding and prisoners‟ stress. However, we must remember that
many prisoners suffer from mental health issues and have substance
addictions before they are admitted to prison.

 Evaluation: -


The Prison Situation and Roles

You will remember studying Haslam & Reicher in Year 12 and discussing
the infamous Stanford Prison Experiment by Zimbardo.

There are two conflicting points of view: -

          1) Prison should be harsh to act as a deterrent
          2) Humane prisons are a sign of a cultured society – prison as

Task: - What are the arguments for and against each point of view?

Zimbardo hoped that his study would lead to an improvement in the
American Penal system and the treatment of prisoners. It is worth
noting here that American jails are much tougher than UK prisons. And,
of course, many states still have the death penalty.

The following is a paper rather than a study.

Haney & Zimbardo (1998) – The past and future of prison policy in
the USA

Part one – Summarising changes over the last 25 years

      Ronald Reagan‟s Republican „War on Drugs‟ (1980s) led to political
       pressure to put more criminals behind bars.
      The concept of rehabilitation was discredited – criminals deserved
      Rigid sentencing, with no possibility of parole.
      Many new prisons built, USA imprisons more people than any other
       modern nation (2008 prison population 2 million).
      Racial bias in prison population 48% African-Caribbean men
       although they only represent 6% of the general population. Many
       for drug offences. Hispanics also over represented.
      Introduction of the „Supermax‟ prison cell.


Haney and Zimbardo argue that the USA is perpetuating discrimination
against black people and encouraging a dispositional explanation of
criminal behaviour. The „supermax‟ cell is another example of a
dispositional explanation being used to categorise some prisoners as
„problem prisoners‟.

A Dispositional explanation sees the cause of criminal behaviour as being
entirely due to an individual‟s personality, rather than considering the
environment which would be a situational explanation.

Task: - What situations variables or factors might explain the over
representation of Blacks in the American penal system?

Part two – Suggestions for improvements

      Prisons should be used sparingly as they are psychologically
       damaging, alternatives should be sought.
      Prisons should take account of individual differences, in particular
       how a person is likely to react to confinement.
      Rehabilitation programmes are needed to teach prisoners the skills
       to cope once they are released. For example, anger management
       programmes, drug and alcohol detox etc.


     Prisoner assessments should include an assessment of situational
      factors, as well as psychological factors. Behaviour should be seen
      in the context of events or situation.
     Reform needs to come from people outside of the prison system
      who are empowered to act on it. (Those within the system are not
     Psychological knowledge should be used to improve the conditions
      within prisons.


Alternatives to Prisons


In 1896 the temperance society of the Church of England started the
probation service by giving alcoholics a gift of 5 shillings to help them
reform. At that time alcohol was seen as the „root of all evil‟. The
recipients of the gift had to sign the pledge (to give up alcohol) and
follow the teachings of the bible to keep them away from temptation and

The modern probation service supervises over 200,000 offenders on four
main types of community sentences: -

      Community rehabilitation orders
      Community punishment orders
      Combined orders (rehabilitation & punishment)
      Drug treatment and testing orders

Approximately 90% are male and 25% aged between 16-20. 70% of
clients are on community sentences, the remaining 30% are on licence
after being released early from prison sentences. Any breach of
probation is taken very seriously and can lead to a custodial sentence.

                             Probation Order
              You Must                           You Must Not
Stay our of trouble                   Miss an appointment or be late
Immediately report any change of      Turn up under the influence of
address or phone number               alcohol or drugs
Be on time for appointments           Upset or threaten people
Let staff visit your home             Make racist, sexist or other
                                      offensive remarks
Keep to court requirements
Keep to your licence if you have
been released from prison
Take part in any activities your
probation officer asks you to

Does Probation work?


Mair & May (1997) – Investigation of the experiences of offenders on
probation orders.

Aim: - To investigate the experience of offenders on probation orders
across England & Wales

Procedure: - 3299 offenders were chosen at random from 22 different
probation offices, these represented all age groups and offences. There
was a 40% drop out rate, with a disproportionate number of these coming
from London. Interviews were conducted by independent researchers,
questions were mainly closed, likert scale and multiple choice.

Results: - 88% felt probation was useful. 60% thought there probation
officer would help them individually.
However, only 37% said probation would stop them re-offending.

Conclusion: - Probation is seen as useful by offenders. But, over a third
on offenders went on to re-offend. Other factors need to be considered
such as socio-economic status, unemployment, family, peers etc.

  Evaluation: -


Restorative Justice

Historically, the offender is seen as having committed a crime against the
state e.g. Smith Vs Regina (Lawsuits are give the name of the defendant
and the Queen). However, crimes have victims and victims often feel
that their experiences and expectations are not taken into account by
the justice system. Restorative justice aims to redress this balance,
crime is seen as being against a person or organisation and victims are
allowed to be part of what happens.

Restorative justice has to be voluntary for all parties and seeks a positive
outcome. It is respectful and not degrading for either offender or

Restorative justice aims to provide victims with: -
    An opportunity to explain the impact of the crime (impact
    An acknowledgement of the harm caused
    A chance to ask questions
    Some control and choice
    Peace of mind about the future.

Restorative justice has a long history, although in the past it was often
more about revenge and compensation. Sharia law (Muslim law) which is
based on the Koran is dispensed by elders who decided on the amount of
compensation a victim or victim‟s family is entitled to. They suggest that
this system works better than the UK system as, “Here you have the
fullest prisons in the world because you feed the criminals and they
become fatter and do the crimes again.” "Our experience may be
something we can offer to this country's penal system."

Restorative justice is tough both for victims and offenders. For
offenders they have to face up to the consequences of their actions, but
for victims they may be forced to relive frightening and upsetting


Sherman & Strang (2007) Review of restorative justice and its
effectiveness in preventing re-offending.

Aim: - To look at restorative justice in practice and measure its
effectiveness in terms of re-offending.

Procedure: - A content analysis was carried out on 424 academics papers
on restorative justice (secondary data). From these 36 studies were
found that compared re-offending rates for those who were part of
restorative justice programmes and those that were not.

Results: - Restorative justice is more effective when there is a personal
victim and tends to work for violence and property crime. However,
restorative justice is not effective in all cases. The clearest benefits are
for the victim, it reducing post traumatic shock syndrome and helps them
come to terms with the crime.

Conclusions: - There is strong evidence to suggest that restorative
justice is effective in some cases. There is support for its increased use,
especially with young, first time offenders.

 Evaluation: -


‘Looking Death worthy’

                       The issue of the death penalty is very contentious.

                       Task: - What do you think, what are the
                       arguments for and against. Using the internet
                       find out which countries still have the death
                       penalty and for which crimes.

                        Eberhardt et al (2006) suggest that in the USA
                        the more stereotypically „Black‟ your features are
                        the more likely you are to be given a death
                        sentence for your crime. This may seem an
alarming idea, but think back to early theories by Lombroso which
suggested that criminal shared certain physical characteristics. It is a
fact that the Criminal justice system is dominated by white people and
that many of the states which still have the death penalty are Southern
states where discrimination and prejudice were historically worse.

Eberhardt et al (2006) Investigation of the relation between
stereotypically black features in offenders and the likelihood of
receiving the death sentence.

Aim: - To investigate whether there was support for the hypothesis
that black offenders with stereotypically black features were more likely
to get the death sentence than white offenders.

Procedure: - An analysis of the database of death-eligible cases in
Philadelphia between 1979 and 1999. In 44 cases a Black man had killed a
white victim. Photographs of these 44 were shown to naïve raters who
were asked to rate their facial features for stereotypical Black features
between 1-11, 11 was very stereotypical. The 51 raters included 32 white,
15 Asian and four of other ethnicities.

Results: - It was found that the most stereotypically Black defenders
were 57.5% more likely to receive the death penalty, than the less
stereotypical defendants at 24.4%. In a second study where the victim
was also Black, no significant effect was found, suggesting Black victims
are seen as less important.


Conclusion: - This suggests that stereotypically looking Black men are
seen as some how more „Death Worthy‟

 Evaluation: -
 Can you think of any other reason (other than racism) why Blacks might be
 over represented in Death sentences?

 What are the massive flaws in this study?


Treatment Programmes

The recidivism rate in the UK is approximately 64%. In order to break
the „revolving door‟ phenomenon of repeat offending effective treatment
and rehabilitation programmes are needed. It is clear that at present
these are too few and ineffective. Unfortunately, spending money on
prisoners is not seen as a priority by governments and tax payers. But,
this is short-sighted; breaking the cycle of re-offending is a major step
towards reducing crime.

Cognitive Skills Programmes

Before a criminal act can occur, it must be preceded by a criminal
thought. Therefore, changing the way offenders think can prevent re-
offending. This idea is the rationale behind cognitive behavioural therapy
(CBT), in other words if you change the way a person thinks you will
change the way they act.

Friendship (2002) reported that re-offending rates for prisoners who
received CBT were 14% lower than those who hadn‟t. However, a later
study by Falshaw & Friendship (2003) failed to find a significant

A major issue is that in order for CBT to be effective it must be well
delivered by competent therapists and the prisoners must have a
reasonably high IQ (at least 80), good literacy skills and be highly

Cann (2006) Impact of cognitive skills programmes in reducing re-

Aim: - To find out if cognitive skills programmes were effective in
terms of lower re-offending rates for a sample of women prisoners.

Procedure: - Between 1996 & 2000, 180 female offenders were given
one of two types of CBT: Enhanced Thinking Skills (ETS) or Reasoning and
Rehabilitation (R & R). These were compared with a group of 540 female
prisoners who did not receive therapy. Re-conviction rates were examined
two years after release.


Results: - No significant differences were discovered between the
groups. Although the R & R group did slightly worse and were re-
convicted earlier!

Evaluation: -
Cann suggests that the programmes were ineffective for the following
reasons: -
    Women offend for different reasons to men; they may have cognitive
      skills deficits. Drug abuse, relationship problems, emotional factors
      and financial hardship are major causes of female criminality.
    The Cognitive therapies had been developed with male prisoners in
      mind and were therefore inappropriate for women.
    The therapy was not effectively delivered.


Anger Management

Anger is a strong emotion and many prisoners have problems controlling
their anger which leads to violent behaviour. Anger needs to be
controlled within a prison environment for the safety of staff and
inmates. One way of achieving this aim is through anger management
programmes. The main form of Anger management in prisons is a
programme called CALM

Task: - Research CALM.

Ireland (2000) Investigation of whether anger management course

Aims: - To assess whether anger management programmes work with
young male offenders.

Procedure: - A natural experiment compared a group of 50 prisoners
who had completed CALM and a group of 37 who were assessed as
suitable, but had not actually taken the course. The prisoners were given
a cognitive behavioural interview. Prison officers completed a Wing
Behavioural Checklist (WBC) rating 29 angry behaviour with scores of 0, 1
or 2 for the week before the interview. Prisoners also completed a self-
report questionnaire on anger management with 53 questions.

Results: - Prisoners who had completed CALM rated themselves lower on
the anger questionnaire and were rated lower by the prison officers, than
the control group. 92% showed improvements on at least one measure of
aggression and anger.

Conclusions: - In the short-term the treatment seemed effective, but
there is no re-offending data.
 Evaluation: -


                        This alternative treatment has been used in
                        prisons for 5 years and is popular as it is cheap
                        easily taught and does not require the prisoner to
                        be highly motivated to work. Given that drugs
                        are a huge problem in both prisons and society in
                        general, this treatment has great potential.

                        But does it work?

Wheatley (2007) Use of acupuncture to treat drug addiction in

Aim: - To evaluate the effectiveness of ear acupuncture.

Procedure: - 350 prisoners in six high security prisons received
acupuncture and the standard care programme FOCUS; these were
compared with a control group who just received FOCUS. Two trained
practitioners worked with groups of 10-15 prisoners in a relaxed setting,
needles were inserted into five acupuncture points in the ear and
prisoners relaxed for 40 minutes.

Results: -
Qualitative Data: - Prisoners reported better sleep, improved relaxation,
better able to cope, reduced nicotine cravings, cognitive and health
improvements. Staff reported better communication with staff and
families, improved attendance at classes, calmer atmosphere and less use
of healthcare facilities.

Quantitative Data: -
   70% reduction in drug related incidents in the 6 months after
   41% reduction in serious incident reports.
   42% reduction in positive drug tests (mandatory).
   33% reduction in positive drug test (voluntary)


Conclusion: - Wheatley believes that there is enough evidence to expand
the delivery of acupuncture throughout the prison system. He believes it
works best as a complimentary therapy alongside other programmes.

 Evaluation: -
 What other possible explanations are there for this apparent success?

 Gates (2006) found no significant difference between the use of
 acupuncture and sham acupuncture (needles placed randomly in the ear)

Exam Questions

   1) a) Describe alternatives to imprisonment (10)
   b) Evaluate the effectiveness of these alternatives (15)
   2) a) Describe a treatment program used in prisons (10)
   b) Evaluate the effectiveness of this treatment programme (15)


Lingjuan Ma Lingjuan Ma MS
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