False Confessions Case Study

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Introduction: In 1975 four people were wrongfully incarcerated in the UK over IRA pub bombings. After spending a number of years in prison, they were eventually exonerated. It was found that one of the suspects had falsely confessed to the crime after prolonged pressure and mistreatment from the police. The case of ‘The Guildford four’ highlights the problem of wrongful convictions resulting from false confessions. The Innocent Project also found that 15-20% of DNA-exonerated (innocent) defendants had falsely confessed prior to their trails (as cited by Kassin, 2005). Interviewing suspects is a crucial part of criminal investigations. It is therefore important that police and investigators understand how to effectively interview suspects whilst…show more content…
Although the PEACE model provides a structure for police officers to follow when interviewing suspects, it doesn’t specify particular tactics that should be used. Therefore persuasive interview methods and interrogation may be used by individuals in order to elicit a confession, whether that confession is true or false. The consequences of false confessions results in two miscarriages of justice; that an innocent person is prosecuted and secondly that the actual offender hasn’t been…show more content…
Although the confession was detailed, it resulted from a desire to alleviate a prolonged/forceful interview situation. The boy was said to have a normal personality, suffered from no mental illnesses and had an average IQ. This case highlights the idea that any individual can be susceptible to interrogative pressure. Interviewers may also coerce the suspect to confess with promises of a reward. For example, Gudjonsson (2003) identified known incentives used to elicit coerced-compliant false confessions including being allowed to sleep/eat, being allowed to go home or make a phone call. Confessions obtained by methods such as these are therefore worthless and may actually confound the investigation taking

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