Skip to 0 minutes and 0 secondsGRAHAM PIKE: Hello and welcome to the course. I'm Graham Pike, and I'm Professor of Forensic Cognition, here at The Open University. I'm one of the two guides for this course and we will be catching up with you at the start of each of the 8 weeks, to help put the course material in context, summarise where we've got to on our journey and understand the significance of what's coming up next.

Skip to 0 minutes and 20 secondsIf you're a fan of crime dramas, you may think it is forensics and crime labs that hold the key to solving crimes, but in real life, cases are rarely straight forward, there is often a high degree of uncertainty, and sometimes it is the verbal evidence from witnesses and victims which we have to rely upon the most.

Skip to 0 minutes and 35 secondsCATRIONA HAVARD: I'm Catriona Havard and I'm a lecturer in Psychology, and I'm your other guide. Our goal on this course is to examine how psychological knowledge can be used to help prevent wrongful convictions and how the police can use psychology to obtain evidence from eyewitnesses. We'll be taking you behind the scenes of police investigation and putting ourselves in the shoes of the lead detectives, with a chance to evaluate the evidence and see if we can solve the case the same way as the police. Throughout the course there'll be online discussions, where you can share your ideas and comments. And there'll be quizzes, where there'll be the opportunity to test how much we've learnt.

Skip to 1 minute and 13 secondsGRAHAM PIKE: So welcome to week 1. To begin with we'll learn about a real case of mistaken identity, which led to an innocent man being imprisoned. We'll then see how well you know your own mind. We know that our memories are not always accurate, but how does our memory actually work? To test yours, you can answer the quiz. And we'll get our first glimpses of the crime and investigation we'll be following, as we'll meet the police, and witnesses that are involved. Enjoy the journey. And we'll be back to catch up with you next week.

Psychology and miscarriages of justice

Although crime dramas focus more and more on the forensic analysis of physical evidence (e.g. DNA), the human element of the story, particularly the evidence provided by victims/witnesses, remains a compelling component.

In real life, eyewitness testimony plays an incredibly important role in police investigations. As eyewitnesses are human, the accuracy and usefulness of the evidence they provide can only be as good as the human mind allows. Understanding the psychology of how the mind works, particularly how we remember, is therefore a crucial component in helping to evaluate and improve police investigations.

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Forensic Psychology: Witness Investigation

The Open University

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