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Forensic psychology
Forensic psychology

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2.3 Summary of the evidence

Figure 9

DI Bullet’s summary of the evidence was:

a large silver Audi, new and expensive looking, screeched round the corner and the number plate was definitely NG58 VXW. After that, four guys jump out of the car, all wearing army fatigues and dark jackets, and they start firing guns in the air. Three of them run to the security van and the driver ran towards you, threatening you with a shot gun, grabs Liz and drags her back to the car. The other three fight with the guards, use a tool to cut the chain attaching a case to one of the guards and then steal it. The driver is a Caucasian male in his thirties, 6 feet 3 or 4 inches, dressed like a soldier and with dark hair in a crew cut. The guy who steals the case is an Asian male, in his twenties, 5 feet 3 inches, stocky with long, dark curly hair? All were armed with shotguns.

Based on your evaluation of the witness statements, how accurate a picture do you now think this is? One thing to note is that witnesses tend to be better with information about actions than other details, and in this case there tended to be consistency in the accurate information about the actions. Moreover, when you rule out the more unreliable evidence, you can see that the descriptions of the perpetrators are nothing like as clear cut as DI Bullet’s summary would suggest.

How would your own notes of the evidence stand up to such evaluation? We have a tendency to trust information if it is confirmed by someone else, but the co-witness effect and suggestive questions mean that we should be wary of two people remembering the same detail after hearing what the other has to say.

Putting accuracy aside, DI Bullet certainly got a lot of information very quickly. How will the more cautious DS Sund fare?