Memory and the Legal System

Online - see link
Saturday 3 November (00:00) - Friday 9 November 2018 (00:00)

For more information on this event please contact Dr Heather Flowe

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This event entails four online presentations capturing the diverse ways that memory and trauma impact the legal system, and vice versa. 

Memory plays a vital role in all human interactions and has important societal consequences, especially in legal settings. Mistaken witness identification and testimony are concerns worldwide, and have been implicated in the majority of the 350+ exoneration cases in the United States. Most of these were rape cases. Further 473,000 adults in England and Wales are victims of sexual violence per year on average. Memory and trauma feature prominently in these cases. There is a worldwide need to innovate procedures to enhance memory performance in the legal system, especially when investigative resources are minimal; such when policing budgets are cut, during humanitarian crises, and in third world countries. 


  • Crime and traumatic memory (Danielle Hett)
  • Remembering rape in the legal context (Dr Heather Flowe)
  • Methods for improving line up identification accuracy (Dr Melissa Colloff)
  • Innovations in victim-centered responses to sexual violence in humanitarian contexts (Professor Lisa Smith and Dr Heather Flowe)  

With respect to PTSD, a memory disorder, the majority of the population experience traumatic events, and 1 and 10 persons develop PTSD in response. Our work has been funded by the ESRC (UK) and the Laura and John Arnold Foundation (US), and has featured in the FCO guidance on documenting and investigating sexual violence cases in international conflict zones. 

Following the event, presentations may be viewed at:

Who is this event for?

The presentations are for legal practitioners and members of the public, featuring scientifically rigorous lines of research that employ cutting edge methods to investigate and improve memory performance in the legal system.

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This event is part of the Festival of Social Science which runs from 3-10 November 2018. See what other events are taking place in the College of Social Sciences at the University of Birmingham. 

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