This analysis reveals that a tremendous amount of

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This analysis reveals that a tremendous amount of interactional currency is spent in the production of a witness statement. The collapsing of interviewing, note-taking, composing and so on makes the process of obtaining a witness statement and the product, the statement itself, quite unique. Audio-recording offers a way of seeing how the statement is fashioned through multiple versions, whether we are analysts, lawyers, police, observers or legal decision-makers. Close inspection of the verbal interactions through which written statements are crafted shows: If witnesses express degrees of uncertainty or certainty about important facts during statement-taking sessions this may or may not be noted in the resulting statement; Information may be ‘lost’ during statement-taking; Apparently contradictory claims by witnesses may be overlooked by investigators; Both witnesses and interviewers draw on strategies in attempts to aid the witness’ memory; Witness statement-taking is a complex task in that multiple demands are placed on the interviewer who needs to do several things (notably listening, and writing) simultaneously. More research is necessary to discover whether such an undertaking is at all realistic. More attention to writing skills in police interview training may assist; Audio-recordings of statement-taking sessions may enable police officers to conduct more detailed, thorough investigations, where necessary, by providing them with access to the origins of witness’ claims. We may then use these insights to contribute to the technologisation of this activity, to reflect critically on the productive processes at work or possibly to do both of these things. ‘The Guinness Advice’ includes the following: The general rule must be to preserve documents which come into existence during a criminal investigation … notes of interviews with actual or potential witnesses … draft witness statements. The Director of Public Prosecutions (14 August 1992: paragraph 8) This research supports the claim that documents which are produced in the course of an investigation should be collated and used, because it demonstrates that, during statement- taking, despite the best efforts of the statement-taker, information may be summarised
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ambiguously or lost. Preservation of original documents would not only make the processes of statement-taking more transparent if things go wrong, but would also enable investigations to become more sophisticated through use of draft witness statements to investigate disputed or unclear points and to pursue important insights more fully. A failure to maintain a record of the development of a statement is a failure to acknowledge any degree of infallibility in eyewitnesses. Police officers may problematise a witness’ ability to remember complicated strings of events or high levels of detail relating to events, people and locations which they may have observed whilst under stress:
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