Piloting PTWI - A Socio-Legal Window on Prosecutors’ Assessments of Evidence and Witness Credibility
Posted: 8 Mar 2010
Date Written: Spring 2010
This article presents original empirical data generated from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) Pilot Evaluation of pre-trial witness interviewing (PTWI) in England and Wales. Section 1 introduces the PTWI Pilot and describes the methodological strengths and limitations of our qualitative socio-legal study. Forming the richly documented empirical core of the article, Sections 2-5 identify the principal considerations which seemed to influence case selection for Pilot interviews. An overlapping collection of evidentiary, strategic and circumstantial factors encouraged prosecutors to resort to PTWI, whilst other, countervailing considerations were apprehended as disincentives. Assessments of witness credibility were central to prosecutors’ attempts to balance these competing factors. Section 6 concludes by underlining the potential of qualitative socio-legal studies to promote more nuanced understandings of criminal process, and by extension to make practical contributions to evidence-based criminal procedure reform.
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