Does providing a written version of the police caution improve comprehension in the general population?

Mary Hughes, Stella Bain, Elizabeth Gilchrist, Jack Boyle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Comprehension of the police caution is extremely poor across a variety of populations and jurisdictions and is particularly impaired in vulnerable populations. This has significant consequences for the admissibility of evidence in court. We investigated whether providing individuals with a written version of the caution would improve comprehension in the general population. Sixty participants (30 with low educational attainment and 30 with high educational attainment) were randomly allocated to one of three groups (Verbal presentation; Written presentation; Verbal and Written presentation). Comprehension in the three groups was evaluated using Cooke and Philip's (1998) Scottish Comprehension of Caution Instrument. Results showed that despite 95% of participants claiming to fully understand the sample caution, only 5% of individuals in the verbal presentation group demonstrated full understanding, compared to 40% and 35% in the written and combined verbal and written groups respectively. This highlights both that individuals' self-reports of understanding are higher than actual comprehension and that providing a written version of the caution may improve comprehension in the general population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)549-564
Number of pages16
JournalPsychology, Crime and Law
Volume19
Issue number7
Early online date24 Feb 2012
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013

Keywords

  • legal rights
  • police interviews
  • criminology research

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