Reliability of Memory in Sexual Abuse Cases

The Police Foundation have recently published an interesting article, noting how many officials involved in the judicial process lack training in how to assess whether an individual’s memories are true or false.


It is no secret that in the past the police have frequently and repeatedly failed the victims of sexual abuse. Keen to right the wrongs of their past sins, and under considerable pressure, the police are now more motivated than ever to ensure that they perform their duty of care to victims of sexual abuse who come forward. However, questions have begun to emerge about how much weight the police should be giving to victim allegations. Apprehensions about Operation Midland in particular are being raised, with a concern that a number of famous people have had their reputations ruined on the basis of unfounded allegations.

The problem with these concerns are that they seem to offer only two possible options for sexual abuse allegations – either victims are telling the truth, or they are lying; and indeed, why would someone lie about something so serious?

However, what about victims who come forward who truly believe they were sexually abused, but in fact may not have been?

….¬†Decades of research have taught us that our memory does not work like a video recorder. We cannot push a button, or take a special pill to allow us to remember things. Instead, memory is a reconstructive process, one that is influenced greatly by time and questioning.


To read more of Dr Sarah Garner’s article please visit the Police Foundation’s website:¬†



Be the first to comment on "Reliability of Memory in Sexual Abuse Cases"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.