Goldsmiths Psychology research has changed the way police investigators gather evidence from witnesses and victims.
Professor Fiona Gabbert, Director of the Goldsmiths Forensic Psychology Unit, worked with colleagues to develop the Self-Administered Interview technique.
This approach to police evidence gathering is now helping officers to secure quick and accurate accounts from eyewitnesses and victims, in the UK and abroad.
The Self-Administered Interview
The Self-Administered Interview - or SAI - can help investigators in cases where there are multiple witnesses to a crime.
Instead of taking initial statements from each eyewitness, investigators use the SAI technique to elicit an initial statement.
Backed by over a decade of research, the questions in the SAI help the witness or victim to put together their account.
They encourage the user to record key details that could be vital to the investigation and can be answered quickly, helping to prevent memory contamination and forgetting over time.
The SAI technique has been recommended for use by the College of Policing since 2019. The tool is one of their scientifically informed guidelines for frontline police officers tasked with obtaining initial eyewitness accounts.
Improving missing person investigations
The original SAI technique has been adapted for use across a range of investigative contexts, including in missing person investigations.
Professor Gabbert and colleagues worked with the National Crime Agency to develop SAI Missing, a self-administered report form to help investigators collect initial information about a missing person.
Friends and relatives use the online SAI Missing to share critical information with officers.
The tool ensures police time is focused on locating and safeguarding the missing person, while ensuring friends and family can contribute directly to the investigation.
“The impact of the research will be felt across policing”
Head of UK Missing Persons Unit, National Crime Agency
Goldsmiths Forensic Psychology Unit
The Forensic Psychology Unit at Goldsmiths is an international hub for research exploring the relationship between psychological science and the criminal justice system.
The Unit specialises in investigative psychology, including areas such as investigative interviewing, facilitating retrieval and factors impacting the reliability of eyewitness memory.
Unit members are also experts in understanding and responding to criminal behaviour, and developing interventions such as education programmes.
The Forensic Psychology Unit offers both undergraduate and postgraduate courses in forensic psychology, as well as research degrees supervised by members.
Find out more about the Forensic Psychology Unit.