Assessing the capacity of people with intellectual disabilities to be witnesses in court

Gudjonsson, G.H. and Murphy, G.H. and Clare, I.C.H. (2000) Assessing the capacity of people with intellectual disabilities to be witnesses in court. Psychological Medicine, 30 (2). pp. 307-314. ISSN 0033-2917. (The full text of this publication is not available from this repository)

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Official URL
http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S003329179900149X

Abstract

Background. People with intellectual disabilities who have been victims or other witnesses of crime have had limited access to the criminal justice system, often on the basis of assumptions about their incapacity to be interviewed by the police and to give evidence in court. The aim of this study was to assess their capacity to be witnesses in court. Methods. Forty-nine men and women with intellectual disabilities, all of whom were potential witnesses of ii-treatment, were assessed in order to provide advice, initially to the police, about their capacity to be interviewed for judicial purposes. The assessments included evaluations of each person's intellectual ability, memory, acquiescence, suggestibility, and their ability to explain concepts relating to the oath. Results. Only 37 (76%) were able to complete the assessments. Most of those with a Full Scale IQ score of greater than or equal to 60 had a basic understanding of the oath, compared with only a third of those with IQ scores between 50 and 59, and none of those with IQ scores < 50. Nevertheless, some of the people who were unable to demonstrate an understanding of the oath did understand the words 'truth' and 'lie', especially when asked about these concepts in relation to concrete examples. Conclusions. While intellectual ability appears to be the best overall predictor of the capacity of people with intellectual disabilities to act as witnesses, confining witnesses to those who could explain the meaning of the oath would mean that a number of persons who might be interviewed by the police and subsequently appear in court could be excluded from the judicial process.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Social Policy Sociology and Social Research > Tizard
Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: O.O. Odanye
Date Deposited: 01 May 2009 01:11
Last Modified: 24 Apr 2012 13:11
Resource URI: http://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/16169 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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