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Autism and the Criminal Justice System: Achieving Best Evidence

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Elizabeth Weir.

Investigative interviews are a crucial evidence-gathering stage within the Criminal Justice System, yet they are also socially and cognitively demanding for interviewees. The social and cognitive differences experienced by autistic people mean that interviews can be especially challenging for them. For example, understanding others’ mental states, interpreting social contexts, recalling personally experienced events from memory, and engaging in reciprocal social communication are all often difficult for autistic people. These characteristics constitute significant barriers to autistic adults providing credible, accurate and reliable interview statements during criminal proceedings unless a more enabling environment is provided. In this talk, I will present a series of research studies evidencing the difficulties experienced by autistic witnesses during investigative interviews and alternative evidence-based interviewing techniques that are compatible within a legally-appropriate framework. I will discuss the further challenges faced by autistic suspects, before outlining a new program of research focussing on the court system.

This talk is part of the ARClub Talks series.

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