Centre for Research in Communication and Culture


29 April 2020

Emma Richardson - Resisting categorisation of ‘vulnerable’ in investigative police interviews

Presented By DARG
  • 13:00-14:30
  • Online (Please email s.parslow@lboro.ac.uk to attend)

About this event

The data for this session comes from a corpus of investigative interviews from an English police force in which vulnerable adult and child witnesses report being victim of sexual assault and rape*. Research suggests that vulnerable victims or witnesses, particularly those with intellectual impairment or disability, are more likely to be sexually abused or assaulted than those without, yet are less likely to report and go on to have their cases heard in court. There are a variety of reasons for the latter part of this complex issue but they often centre around the perceived quality of evidence obtained through investigative interviews. Special measures can be taken to assist both parties to obtain ‘best evidence’. Identifying vulnerability is challenging without a full assessment and guidance such as, ‘Vulnerable and Intimidated Witnesses: A Police Service Guide document’ (Ministry of Justice, 2011) provides ‘prompts’ to assist with identifying vulnerability in the interview. In the guidance, there is an acknowledgement that some witnesses may self-identify as vulnerable while others may be reluctant. I’m interested in question-answer sequences in which officers attempt to reveal witness vulnerability and in doing so categorise the witness as vulnerable for any future audience of the tape.

*The extract does not contain details of any sexual assault or rape.