Review of Witness Testimony in Sexual Cases

Witness Testimony in Sexual Cases

Witness Testimony in Sexual Cases focuses on legal and scientific considerations that arise when obtaining and evaluating sexual complaint testimony. It provides comprehensive and balanced coverage of this difficult and challenging topic across the complete spectrum of involvement in the legal process.

By: Pamela Radcliffe (Editor), Gisli H. Gudjonsson CBE (Editor), Anthony Heatonarmstrong (Editor), David Wolchover (Editor). Publisher: Oxford University Press. Date: 2016.


This book equips legal professionals with an understanding of current legal and scientific issues when investigating, evaluating and testing witness testimony in sexual cases. Using a didactic approach the book combines an exposition on the law and procedure with a range of specialist perspectives on cognitive processes pertaining to vulnerable and non-vulnerable witnesses. The book identifies psychiatric and psychological factors that may enhance or impair the quality of witness testimony for instance where a witness suffers from mental health problems or where long-term memory recall is involved.

The book provides practitioners with an understanding of factors which tend to undermine the reliability of witness testimony, but also focuses on those factors which may enhance witness quality. Witness Testimony in Sexual Cases draws together learning not readily available and encourages an integral and rigorous approach to the analysis of witness testimony in the special context of sexual cases.


Witness Testimony in Sexual Cases provides a wide-ranging and lucid analysis of the investigation and prosecution of sexual offences. It is an invaluable source-book for legal practitioners, socio-legal scholars, criminology, law and psychology students. Drawing on valuable and up-to-date research, it provides an international perspective about the assessment of, and the complex issues surrounding witness testimony. There is a good balance between legal and scientific perspectives, emphasising the need to adopt a multidisciplinary approach to better assess and evaluate witness testimony, with impressive contributions on pathological lying and the science of memory. The analysis of these factors is highly accessible and informative. The book provides a crucial historical dimension about developments and policy changes in the criminal justice system, the criminal trial process and the underlying causes of change which help shape recent reforms. It is clearly written and supported by an array of impressive scientific and legal research. The emphasis on international comparisons and stress on scientific and investigative methodologies make for a stimulating and thought-provoking analysis. In the light of a dramatic increase in prosecutions regarding historical sexual abuse, this book is also essential reading for prosecutors, defence lawyers and trial judges. (Dr Kevin Felstead, BFMS)


This is a ‘must-read’ book for all legal justice professionals, and experts, concerned with sexual cases. It is written in a simple, comprehensible way by leading academics, authoritative experts and senior practitioners. The diverse background of the contributing authors leads to a refreshing mix of styles, akin to attending a conference with a variety of speakers. Witness Testimony in Sexual Cases identifies and achieves the difficult task of bridging the knowledge gap that sometimes exists between the law and science in courts, especially in relation to the psychological sciences. The short chapters make the messages contained within them very easy to absorb. The international comparative perspective provides a stimulating and added dynamic to the text. This book will be an invaluable resource for every lawyer and justice professional, whether in the family, criminal or regulatory arena. (Leslie Cuthbert, Vice-Chair of the Solicitors Association of Higher Court Advocates)


This book is itself a reflection of changing attitudes on the part of investigators, medics and lawyers. The need for an inter-disciplinary approach to achieving best evidence is emphasised throughout. The editors are to be commended on gathering so many experts in their field and for marshalling their essays into a readable house style.This is a highly original book which combines evidential, investigatory and scientific perspectives. All parties engaged in this highly sensitive and difficult area of law will benefit from reading it. (Neil Corre, Barrister, Redbourne Chambers)


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