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PSYCHOLOGICAL VULNERABILITIES, FALSE CONFESSIONS, AND MISCARRIAGES OF JUSTICE. Gisli H. Gudjonsson Professor of Forensic Psychology Institute of Psychiatry.

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Presentation on theme: "PSYCHOLOGICAL VULNERABILITIES, FALSE CONFESSIONS, AND MISCARRIAGES OF JUSTICE. Gisli H. Gudjonsson Professor of Forensic Psychology Institute of Psychiatry."— Presentation transcript:

1 PSYCHOLOGICAL VULNERABILITIES, FALSE CONFESSIONS, AND MISCARRIAGES OF JUSTICE. Gisli H. Gudjonsson Professor of Forensic Psychology Institute of Psychiatry Kings College, London gisli.gudjonsson@kcl.ac.uk

2 THE EARLY YEARS (1980s) 1.In the 1980s there was great scepticism about false confessions. Many people considered it inconceivable unless there was evidence of a major disorder (e.g. mental retardation). This attitude has now changed due to research and documented cases. 2.With Dr James MacKeith I researched cases of proven false confessions, worked on landmark real-life cases (e.g., Guildford Four, Birmingham Six), and showed that false confessions do, under certain circumstances, occur in the absence of mental disorder. Next time, it could be you or I. 3.The development and validation of the Gudjonsson Suggestibility and Compliance Scales, which are well recognised, researched, and used internationally to determine witness/suspect reliability for research purposes and in real-life cases. 4.The conceptualisation and development of the theoretical model of interrogative suggestibility, which is guiding research internationally.

3 FROM THE COURT OF APPEAL TO THE HOUSE OF LORDS: 1.The case of Engin Raghip, one of the Tottenham Three, went to the Court of Appeal in 1991 where a murder conviction was overturned on the basis of psychological evidence. This was a landmark judgment and broadened the criteria for admitting psychological evidence. 2.Between 1991 and 2010 Gudjonssons evidence was influential on appeal in about 20 murder/terrorist cases in Britain, it stopped two executions in the USA, and resulted in fundamental changes in police interviewing and the criminal justice system in Norway after a successful appeal. 3.In 2001 The House of Lords quashed a murder conviction largely on the basis of Gudjonsssons evidence, which had been previously presented in the Court of Appeal.

4 THE RESEARCH : 1.Two empirical (field-studies) research projects for the Royal Commission on Criminal Justice, which for the first time demonstrated the kinds of vulnerabilities that were present among police detainees prior to a police interview (e.g., low IQ, disturbed mental state, need for support). This has influenced police interviewing and the detention process. 2.Studies of reported false confessions among prisoners and suspects detained at police stations. The results show that reported false confessions among these groups are common and the motivation behind the false confessions is often to avoid police interview/custodial pressures or take on a case for a peer. ADHD has recently been found to be an important vulnerability factor. 3.Research into what kind of police questioning tactics break down resistance and result in a false confession. The results show the dangers of playing on suspects psychological problems (e.g. manipulating their feelings of low self-esteem). 4.Large national (Icelandic) and European surveys among young people of the factors associated with false confessions, including ADHD, conduct disorder, substance misuse, mental health problems, and history of negative life events. 5.The individual cases studies, real-life court cases, and extensive research into police interviews, psychological vulnerabilities, and false confessions have impacted internationally on police practice, court judgments and outcome, changed the legal landscape, and resulted in a fairer criminal justice system.


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