Eyewitness Testimony

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How reliable is eyewitness testimony? In what ways should the criminal justice system take more notice of the problems that have been identified?

This essay will explore the argument of how reliable eyewitness testimony is and will also consider the ways the criminal justice system should take more notice of problems already identified. Eyewitness testimony is when a witness comes forward within the courtroom to give their account of what occurred in relation to the trial which is based upon human perception and memory (Geoffrey M Stephenson, 1992 Psychology of Criminal Justice, p161.) “The reliability of eye witness testimony is a vastly complex subject” (Bruce Schneir 2012). When eyewitness testimony is obtained immediately after an event
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Mistakes in perception can become facts, and peoples can memory fade. According to Barbara Tversky 1999 a professor of psychology at Stanford university, “all other things equal, earlier recounting are more likely to be accurate than later ones. The longer the delay, the more likely that subsequent information will get confused with the target memory”. Memories are susceptible to manipulation, alteration and bias (Azar, 2011). Witnesses can distort their own memories without the help of examiners, police officers or lawyers, every act of telling and retelling is tailored to a particular listener. The act of telling a story adds another layer or distortion. (George fisher and Barbara Tversky 1999, p27).Confidence from the witness can be misleading which is supported by Wells and Murray (1984) stating “eyewitness confidence is not useful as a prediction of eyewitness accuracy in actual criminal cases” (Geoffrey M Stephenson, 1993, p161.) The findings a this study into reliability of eyewitness shows that 40 wrongful conviction cases in the USA 36 of them (90%) involved faulty eyewitness identification evidence (Ronald P. Fisher,

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