News

Inside Court 12: the complete story of the Belfast rape trial. Routinely setting victims up to fail

How ironic that the next post on this news feed is this piece reproduced courtesy of the Irish Times:

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/inside-court-12-the-complete-story-of-the-belfast-rape-trial-1.3443620

How it reinforces everything highlighted in the last post reproduced here for ease of reference:

Rape Victims Routinely Set Up To Fail

“Why do the police spend so much time and resources setting victims up to fail?” (Professor of forensic psychology)

“As a defence lawyer a primary objective is to rigorously test and challenge witness credibility” (UK QC)

A decade ago I embarked on a journey to improve the standard of investigation for survivors of Rape and Serious Sexual Assaults.

Why?

Because those standards were inconsistent, a post-code lottery, too often incompetent, and led directly to tragic loss of life and ruination families. Moreso, as ‘contact offences’ they are all ‘theoretically’ detectable given competence and tactical use of evidence throughout the case management process.

During this ‘journey’ I was able to ‘forensically’ review the case management of many hundreds of such investigations, every stage exposed and subject to rigorous scrutiny, in 48 specific cases the reviews were supported by a senior investigation officer and a lead specialist CPS lawyer.

The outcomes were largely unappreciated, ignored, or not understood by decision-makers and influencers.

One output was the dissection of the process a complainant follows having decided to make a report to the police when considered against the fragility of memory and the concept of ‘memory as a crime scene’. That process is captured in the following images which are extracted from a presentation ‘Memory as a Crime Scene” that I’ll try to embed later in this article:

     and   

The diagrams were a crude attempt to illustrate the business process stages that, believe it or not, a complainant was likely to endure and the contamination of memory that inevitably ensues and prompted the observation by a leading forensic psychology professor at the head of this article: “Why do the police spend so much time and resources setting victims up to fail?” The impact of this concept should be considered alongside that of ‘Active Defence’ which links directly to the defence lawyers primary responsibility to rigorously test and challenge witness credibility.

How topical as we daily witness one collapsing prosecution after another.

One clear ‘action’ was to try and reduce the number of process stages thereby reducing that contamination.

One response? Create a Serious Sexual Offence Investigation Unit and staff it primarily with uniform/response officers with little, if any, investigative experience or competence, and set them unrealistic and unachievable objectives!

A less obvious outcome led me to the concept of the early ‘cold-storing’ of witness testimony in those cases which were self-referred to Sexual Offence Referral Centres (SARCS) but NOT reported to the police, by far the majority. and amounting to thousands nationally. Just as physical exhibits are taken and stored in the event a complainant changes their mind or simply needs a few days to think things through.

The solution? Digitally record the ‘first account’, as ‘forensically’ uncontaminated as possible, probe and clarify as appropriate, and ‘cold-store’ alongside the DNA swabs and other physical exhibits. At least offer a Self Administered Interview (SAI) if appropriate (another topic!)

Please don’t get me going with the argument that Forensic Medical Examiners (FMEs) take written notes, not worth the paper they’re written on but that’s another post!

Conscious of content the bottom line:

Inertia and inaction despite every effort to engage decision-makers and not one response to repeated approaches to central government or those purporting to represent the best interests of victims.

So what drives this post and article?

Simple, too many destroyed lives and futures and waking up to this report today on a current rape trial:

“Frank O’Donoghue, QC, for Mr Olding, referring to notes taken by professionals at a rape crisis centre hours after the attack, asked why she had provided an “utterly inconsistent” account of events. The woman replied: “I think you are underestimating the state of shock after you have been raped.” (Times 08/02/18).

I conclude where I started:

“Why do the police spend so much time and resources setting victims up to fail?” (Professor of forensic psychology), and

“As a defence lawyer a primary objective is to rigorously test and challenge witness credibility” (UK QC).

Maybe one key would be to take a forensic look at the construction of the interviews (questioning) and tactical use of evidence by the investigators?

Rape Victims Routinely Set Up To Fail

“Why do the police spend so much time and resources setting victims up to fail?” (Professor of forensic psychology)

“As a defence lawyer a primary objective is to rigorously test and challenge witness credibility” (UK QC)

A decade ago I embarked on a journey to improve the standard of investigation for survivors of Rape and Serious Sexual Assaults.

Why?

Because those standards were inconsistent, a post-code lottery, too often incompetent, and led directly to tragic loss of life and ruination families. Moreso, as ‘contact offences’ they are all ‘theoretically’ detectable given competence and tactical use of evidence throughout the case management process.

During this ‘journey’ I was able to ‘forensically’ review the case management of many hundreds of such investigations, every stage exposed and subject to rigorous scrutiny, in 48 specific cases the reviews were supported by a senior investigation officer and a lead specialist CPS lawyer.

The outcomes were largely unappreciated, ignored, or not understood by decision-makers and influencers.

One output was the dissection of the process a complainant follows having decided to make a report to the police when considered against the fragility of memory and the concept of ‘memory as a crime scene’. That process is captured in the following images which are extracted from a presentation ‘Memory as a Crime Scene” that I’ll try to embed later in this article:

     and   

The diagrams were a crude attempt to illustrate the business process stages that, believe it or not, a complainant was likely to endure and the contamination of memory that inevitably ensues and prompted the observation by a leading forensic psychology professor at the head of this article: “Why do the police spend so much time and resources setting victims up to fail?” The impact of this concept should be considered alongside that of ‘Active Defence’ which links directly to the defence lawyers primary responsibility to rigorously test and challenge witness credibility.

How topical as we daily witness one collapsing prosecution after another.

One clear ‘action’ was to try and reduce the number of process stages thereby reducing that contamination.

One response? Create a Serious Sexual Offence Investigation Unit and staff it primarily with uniform/response officers with little, if any, investigative experience or competence, and set them unrealistic and unachievable objectives!

A less obvious outcome led me to the concept of the early ‘cold-storing’ of witness testimony in those cases which were self-referred to Sexual Offence Referral Centres (SARCS) but NOT reported to the police, by far the majority. and amounting to thousands nationally. Just as physical exhibits are taken and stored in the event a complainant changes their mind or simply needs a few days to think things through.

The solution? Digitally record the ‘first account’, as ‘forensically’ uncontaminated as possible, probe and clarify as appropriate, and ‘cold-store’ alongside the DNA swabs and other physical exhibits. At least offer a Self Administered Interview (SAI) if appropriate (another topic!)

Please don’t get me going with the argument that Forensic Medical Examiners (FMEs) take written notes, not worth the paper they’re written on but that’s another post!

Conscious of content the bottom line:

Inertia and inaction despite every effort to engage decision-makers and not one response to repeated approaches to central government or those purporting to represent the best interests of victims.

So what drives this post and article?

Simple, too many destroyed lives and futures and waking up to this report today on a current rape trial:

“Frank O’Donoghue, QC, for Mr Olding, referring to notes taken by professionals at a rape crisis centre hours after the attack, asked why she had provided an “utterly inconsistent” account of events. The woman replied: “I think you are underestimating the state of shock after you have been raped.” (Times 08/02/18).

I conclude where I started:

“Why do the police spend so much time and resources setting victims up to fail?” (Professor of forensic psychology), and

“As a defence lawyer a primary objective is to rigorously test and challenge witness credibility” (UK QC)

If any reader feels able to forward to someone who can influence policy or is interested in knowing more about the issues and outcomes do feel free to contact me. I will try and attach the full presentation which includes some useful tips on memory, investigation, and interviewing.

Managing Investigation Meetings – Workshops

Intersol are delighted to host a series of ‘open’ 2-day workshops at their new in-house training venue in South Manchester. Designed specifically with SMEs, sole traders, and individuals in mind these workshops are an ideal introduction into the world of workplace investigation and fact-finding interviews, enabling you to manage those difficult conversations and meetings more effectively, confidently, and productively.

Attracting meaningful accreditation and a platform to a level 3 OFQUAL regulated award see the following link on the Intersol Utube channel for more detail : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HSg-JOf41gY 

 

Capacity in the Family Court: difficult decisions

Capacity in the context of family proceedings raises some complex issues – this seminar explores these with some case studies covering basic principles and how these are applied.

On behalf of a valued associate see here for more details and booking arrangements: Capacity Flyer 8mar18 (1)

Investigative Interviewing – Level 3 Accreditation – Unit 1

   

Now that they’ve moved into their new Head Office in South Manchester, recognising that many institutions have neither the capacity or resilience of larger ‘entities’, and responding to widespread demand, Intersol are able to offer Unit 1 of this unique qualification to a wider audience and certificate an understanding of the principles of fact-finding investigative interviews. This unit can be ‘banked’ for 6 months and complemented by Unit 2 (a further 2 days) to achieve the full level 3 accreditation.

Delivered onsite at our offices within DeVere Cheadle House, this presents a great opportunity to work with and learn from the worlds foremost subject matter experts, share experiences, and network with like-minded professionals, enabling you to be better placed to handle those difficult fact-finding workplace interviews and meetings.

Unlike others we are not simply a training company; yes we train, coach, and develop, but significantly ALL our team are current practitioners who maintain relevancy and competency. At Intersol we train it, advise on it, and deliver it.

If you or any member of your team partake in meetings or conversations that can be difficult, challenging or awkward, and need to be ‘managed’; or your decisions rely on fact, detail, and accuracy then this course is a ‘must have’ for you.

Effective workplace meetings and conversations (interviews) that are professionally conducted and quality assured secure clear business benefit and outcomes. They can:

  • Direct and inform organisational Governance, Regulation, and Compliance (GRC)
  • Protect your brand and reputation
  • Underpin your company values and culture
  • Provide internal reassurance, consistency, and confidence
  • Preserve stakeholder loyalty, improving performance
  • Identify, reduce, and manage risks
  • Increase revenue and reduce costs
  • Increase public confidence
  • Energise, motivate, and empower staff
  • Support industry standard leadership
  • Reassure the regulators and avoid sanctions

 Conversely, failure to quality assure and professionally undertake those meetings, can attract adverse consequence for your organisation, causing:

  • Loss of critical information and exposure to risk
  • Irreparable brand, institutional, and personal damage
  • Stakeholder disengagement
  • Increased expenditure on unnecessary meetings and interviews
  • Poor value and return on investment
  • Reinforcement of poor practice
  • Inefficient resource deployment
  • Lack of internal and external credibility and confidence
  • Failure to adhere to regulation
  • Regulatory or criminal sanction

 Fact-finding workplace meetings ARE investigative interviews they are a search for detail, accuracy, and checkable facts to best inform decision-makers.

Preferential rates for accommodation are offered for Intersol clients.

Information on detail, dates, venue etc can be found here: 2 Day Workshop flyer 

Remember: Train it, Advise it, Deliver it!

(Bookings are subject to minimum number of attendees. Intersol also work with clients ‘in house’ on a range of projects, contact for details).

North West based Intersol Global, design and deliver the worlds first accredited and regulated training to conduct workplace ‘investigative’ interviews.

Virgin trains east coast (VTEC), recognising the many business benefits for health and safety, HR, staff development, and reliable decision-making, worked with Intersol to contextualise course content and roll out the training to 15 staff as stage 1 of a broader strategic plan to better equip teams with the skills to conduct reliable and meaningful workplace meetings and enquiries – The first in the world to achieve the accreditation.

Intersol have since gone on to deliver the same accreditation to Pinsent Masons lawyers, supporting them to achieve another ‘world-first’ for corporate lawyers and set them apart from other law firms, and are looking forward to another ‘first’, delivering the qualification to UK Regulator throughout 2018.

Feedback from both was universally excellent. For examples see: https://www.mentimeter.com/s/4e4ec24375d078eced36c265d915e09f/8db06d21e83b

Workplace investigations change lives and effect reputation, don’t assume everyone can conduct them.

We work with HR, regulators, lawyers, financial services, GRC, education, and the third sector supporting them with investigation and interview training, advice, delivery of skills that ensure delivery of Extraordinary Case Management (ECM©).

If you or your company value informed business decision-making based on accuracy, fact, and detail, and would like to manage difficult conversations better please contact Intersol at info@intersolglobal.com for more details and an informal and discreet conversation.

Intersol CEO, Ian Hynes, a regular presenter to VTEC and IOSH health and safety conferences is pictured (right) together with Ian Prosser (HM Inspector of rail) and David Horne (VTEC MD) presenting delegates with accreditation certificates at VTECs annual safety conference in York.

Self Administered Interview (SAI) Tool. (SAW-IT)

Based on the Cognitive Interview (CI) and proven to improve memory, help minimise its contamination, and increase recall, the Self Administered Interview (SAI) was extensively researched by class-leading forensic psychologists and field tested and rolled out by Intersol practitioners.

Known more commonly as the ‘SAW-IT’ in the workplace health and safety environment, it is particularly useful when classifying and prioritising witnesses when interview/investigation resources are limited or time-bound.

The following video captures its application, benefit, and added value in the workplace and if you’d like to know more please contact info@intersolglobal.com

The tool works equally well in all languages, is now available online, and can be provided ‘free’ (subject to personalised design overheads). What is crucial is that those deploying and interpreting are trained to a minimum standard to underpin its application.

The SAI/SAW-IT:

In it’s criminal investigation format its use is summed up in the following video:

Intersol CEO Presents at Rail Health and Safety Conference. (Paying for investigation training? – Don’t just certificate – accredit!)

Ian Hynes, CEO of Intersol Global, was delighted to be invited back to the annual rail health and safety conference hosted by IOSH. Presenting a workshop on the business benefits of managing difficult health and safety conversations in the industry the most rewarding accolade was that of a health and safety director who commented that he’d “learned more about investigation and investigative interviewing in this short workshop than over 25 years in the health and safety industry”. 

So what’s the difference? Simple – it’s our team that is ‘the difference that makes the difference’ . 

First and foremost, every team member, including board level, are world leading subject matter experts who ‘practice what they preach’. Vital to our success is currency, relevancy, and competency.

If you or your company is investing in investigation or interviewing training, strategy, or tactical advice, make sure it’s being delivered by competent expert practitioners. Consider asking 3 questions:

  1. When did ‘they’ last conduct a high-stakes investigation?
  2. When did ‘they’ last conduct a high-stakes investigative interview?
  3. Is your training regulated and accredited?

Incompetent investigation and investigative interviewing not only wastes money, it damages lives and reputations irretrievably.

If you’re paying for training – don’t just certificate – accredit!

Contact info@intersolglobal.com if you’d like to know more about managing difficult workplace conversations.

Intersol Global save company £000’s and protect reputation – A case study.

Towards the end of 2017 a North West company were faced with a dilemma, suspecting a board member of serious professional misconduct, and approached a national law firm for external employment advice and support.

In turn the law firm commissioned Intersol to undertake the workplace enquiries, investigation meetings, and submit an investigation report. The investigation was complex and it was vital that the process was robust yet ethical and transparent as risk to the organisation was potentially huge in terms of cost and reputation if not conducted professionally and competently.

Intersol dedicated subject matter experts to the investigation, driven by their ethos of Extraordinary Case Management (ECM®) and attracting the following feedback from the client:

“…..your assistance with the investigation process was extremely beneficial to the client. You saved the management team numerous hours work in terms of carrying out the investigations and conducting the investigation meeting. You also produced an excellent report which was succinct and dealt clearly with the issues. My view is that your report greatly assisted the disciplinary process. It would also have assisted to defend any claim for unfair dismissal, as it demonstrated that a fair and thorough process had been followed”.

If you’d like to understand more about how we help organisations to conduct workplace investigations and agree that critical business decisions rely on accuracy, detail, and facts please contact us at info@intersolglobal.com for a free and confidential discussion and avoid a tribunal for:

 

Investigative Interviewing – To Record Investigative Interviews or Not? Intersol Global Partner With Indico Systems.

Having been the project business lead to successfully design and rollout the entire server based investigative interviewing recording solutions for a major Metropolitan police force, the author is delighted to announce that by aligning strategically with Indico they are enabled to provide a peerless holistic interviewing solution for clients worldwide. Intersols world class expert practitioners combine with Indico technology to provide a discreet forensic interview service at their new UK HQ. Seen below are the CEOs of both companies following a review visit to secure vital feedback following almost 5 years of use. The CEO of Intersol, Ian Hynes, is pictured ‘interviewing’ his opposite number from Indico, Stig Knutsen, in a state of the art suspect interview facility – note the contrast with those portrayed and sensationalised in the media!

     

The author was recently on the ‘other side’ of an investigative interview, reinvigorating the essential qualities and benefits of accurately recording fact-finding interviews, particularly when they are used to inform high stakes decisions, and accuracy, detail, and reliability are paramount.

The link to the paper written by this author can be found here and is essential reading if you have any involvement in investigation, interviewing, or business decision-making that relies on reliable facts: Recording Interviews – Final

If you’d like to know more or are interested in training or advising of the highest possible standard please drop us a line at info@intersolglobal.com for a free and confidential consultation