Timeline approach helps people remember crimes

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WITNESSES to gang crime are more likely to remember the details if they record what happened using a new timeline-based approach, according to new research.

This is the first study which has tested a timeline technique as a means of improving eyewitness memory performance.

It was carried out by scientists at the University of Portsmouth.

The research, led by applied cognitive psychologist Dr Lorraine Hope, of the Department of Psychology, is published in the Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition.

The timeline approach records the information from when the crime started to when it ended, using notes stuck to the timeline to indicate who did what and what happened.

Experts tested the memories of witnesses to a mock filmed crime using various interview and recall methods.

Dr Hope said: ‘The results are promising, particularly for multiple perpetrator crimes, with those using a timeline approach able to recall significantly more detail about who did what and when than those who were interviewed.

‘Accurately recalling complex incidents with more than one person involved is extremely difficult for witnesses.

‘Our research suggests people perform much better – they remember more and they make fewer errors – than when they are simply asked to report what they saw in an interview.’