PIP investigations should not be a memory test
27 October 2016
Delegates across policing at the first ever Post-Incident
Procedure Seminar, organised by the Police Federation of England & Wales’, have
been told that investigations should not be a memory test.
On the second day of the seminar in
Leicestershire, Lorraine Hope, Professor of
Applied Cognitive Psychology at Portsmouth University, spoke at length
about how memory can be distorted based on the incident itself and the events
that immediately follow.
Prof Hope spoke alongside
Dave Blocksidge from the Police Firearms Officers Association to discuss the
issues that can arise when officers are asked to provide statements following
She said: “A memory is a
personal record of people’s experience, and is not the same as objective video
or audio recording.
“Memories tend to be
incomplete and as a consequence of that, our accounts are incomplete too. A
person’s memory is vulnerable and fragile, and can be distorted by events that
have happened after an incident. Individuals confuse the source of their
memories over time, and most importantly of all we are unlikely to realise that
our memory has been distorted in this way.
“Therefore we need to accept
that omissions and errors will occur and this does not necessarily reflect
reticence or deception.”
“Investigations should not
be memory tests – people should be encouraged to recount events as they
Mr Blacksidge illustrated
this with a series of clips, one of which was shown in comparison with the
statement made by one of the officers involved that differed in terms of some
of the finer details.
This shows the value of
video technology, such as Body-Worn Video, with Prof Hope adding that the two
do not necessarily have to match up perfectly.
The talk followed on from
the views of Simon Chesterman on the first day of the seminar, when the
National Police Chiefs Council’s lead on firearms spoke of the factors that can
cloud an officer’s statement.
“It’s often a traumatic and highly
emotional time with someone having potentially lost their life”, he said.