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Confessions of a forensic psychologist

In today's Guardian, Bob Woffinden interviews forensic psychologist Gisli Gudjonsson, the man who helped to put a stop to the practice of extracting false confessions during police interviews.

"I believe false confessions today are less of a problem than false allegations," says Gudjonsson. "There is accumulating research evidence that it is much easier for people to make up false allegations, even serious allegations, than the courts realise. "People are often too eager to help the police. They may have an over-extended imagination. If the police ask all the people from a certain care home, 'Were you abused?' Even that may be sufficient for people to think, 'Maybe it happened to me then, even though I don't remember it. I think I was abused. Yes, I must have been abused.' "It's important that people who make allegations are very carefully interviewed, because their evidence can easily result in a miscarriage of justice. All interviews in serious cases should be tape-recorded."

17 December, 2002 

Richard Webster, 2002