Children's Rights

Flawed Interviews 2

An eminent expert witness told Jackie Kemp that paedophile cases in Scotland are being dropped due to flawed interview techniques. This is actually an addition I filed to the piece in the Herald below but it was too late to make the paper.

Consultant clinical psychologist Dr Christine Puckering of Glasgow University is often an expert witness in the proceedings. “I have to say that my impression is Scotland is doing rather poorly here. “
She reviews transcripts and videos of interviews with children. “Cases which are based in a large part on children’s evidence usually get dropped before they get to court. Sometimes they are dropped at quite a late stage.
“Very often the interviews that have been done with child abuse victims are seriously  flawed. For very good reasons the people concerned want to see people who they think have done terrible things to children punished but they have a tendency to push too hard and contaminate the children’s evidence.
“If you ask children the question, is Tuesday bigger than purple, many of them will try and answer it because they are used to answering questions they don’t understand. If you ask them the same question twice they will think you are not pleased with the first answer.
“I am particularly concerned about questions being put that the child can’t answer because of their maturity and also information being brought in to the interview from what other people have said.
“Many of my colleagues refuse to participate in the court proceedings because they don’t want to see child abusers get off. I don’t want to either. I know the Lord Advocate Elish Angiolini is also very keen to see an improvement.”