6 interference or translation several authors comment

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6 Interference or translation? Several authors comment on potential interviewer interference with information supplied by witnesses during statement-taking (Heaton-Armstrong and Wolchover, 1992:160 and 163, Shepherd and Milne, 1999:131). However, frequently expressed fears that degree of formality and techniques of statement-taking might distort the statement are somewhat mono-dimensional. To introduce further debate about this question, I propose 3 stances on what a witness statement should aim to do and thus how it should be composed, in terms of compilation, organisation and content. Advocates of each stance might claim: Figure 5. Possible stances on the position of witnesses and interviewers in statement taking B. The interviewer knows which aspects of the available information are likely to become important, he should therefore decide what is included in the statement – The interviewer should take decisions on content C. The interviewer knows how the statement will be used, he should therefore decide how information is to be included – The interviewer should take decisions on form A. The witness holds the information which is to be included in the statement; she should therefore decide what is included in the statement and how information is to be included
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I will now expand these basic positions and will then discuss them and possible compromises between them: A. A witness has seen the events, people, locations, items and so on that they have been asked to describe in their statement. They are therefore the only possible source of information on their perspective on those things. A witness statement should encapsulate the ideas that the witness presented in their first narration of the crime events, no additional ideas should be included and none removed. The statement should be recorded in a witness’ own words and would, in some senses be akin to a deposition. B. A witness has seen the events, people locations, items and so on that they have been asked to describe in their statement. They are, however, unaware of the investigative importance of some items of information. The statement should therefore be based on what the witness has said, but should be transformed from an impressionistic and uninformed account into something which informs the investigation and complements other information by attending to the key facts in dispute, for example. This position may sound contentious, because it may appear that advocates believe that the police should ‘doctor’ statements by inserting information or ‘coaching’ or otherwise manipulating the witness to provide information that ‘fits’ with other witness statements, forensic evidence and so on. However, this position is in reality altogether more subtle, and perhaps best explained with an example. Suppose an officer interviews a witness who has seen an armed robbery and knows that the robbers made off in a car. The officer may be particularly keen to include in the statement information about cars that the witness saw
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