British Universities Film & Video Council

moving image and sound, knowledge and access

Eyewitness

Synopsis
A groundbreaking three-part series, made by the OU in collaboration with Greater Manchester Police, explores the fallibility of human memory in witness testimony, by creating eyewitnesses and looking at real life cases crucial to the eyewitness story, as well as looking behind the scenes of the series and finding out more about the experts and their work. Contains strong language, staged violence and emotional scenes.

Programme 1 - Ten people are secretly filmed as they witness what they believe to be a real crime - a knife attack in a Manchester pub. But when they are later interviewed by the police, their memories are radically different to each other’s and to what really happened. This programme highlights the problem of eyewitness recollection as well as the remarkable techniques used by the modern police to counter our unreliable memories.

Programme 2 shows how difficult it is for witnesses to identify suspects. When bystanders get caught up in a bungled armed robbery and one of them is kidnapped, what effect do weapons and fear have on their memories? High tech eye tracker cameras allow us to compare what witnesses remember from the crime with what they actually saw. The difference between recall and recognition is illustrated by witnesses who can’t describe suspects they clearly saw, yet recognise suspects they can’t describe.

Programme 3 - Having many witnesses to a crime helps the police piece together the facts. But what happens when the only witness is also the victim? Stephanie Slater was blindfolded during her kidnap but her attacker was caught because police interviewers were able to help her recall the sounds and smells she experienced during her ordeal.
But memory can be easily contaminated. Jennifer Thompson-Cannino identified an innocent man as her rapist. He spent 11 years in jail. Now, British police use cutting-edge techniques designed to collect uncontaminated eyewitness testimony so that they can secure a safe conviction, as in the case of Louise Aird, whose home was broken into during a £2 million art theft.
Language
English
Country
Great Britain
Year of release
2010
Year of production
2009
Availability
Out of distribution
Notes
Broadcast in 3 weekly parts on BBC2, beginning 18/4/2010
Subjects
Social Studies; Psychology
Keywords
cognitive psychology; criminology; memory; perception; witness skills

Credits

Producer
Kate Shiers-Ghellere; Peter Leonard

Distribution Formats

Type
DVD
Format
Region 2 PAL
Price
£15.00
Availability
Sale
Duration/Size
180 minutes
Year
2010

Production Company

Name

Open University

Sponsor

Name

BBC Television

Distributor

Name

Canny Store

Web
https://cannystore.com/ External site opens in new window
Phone
01789 207440
Address
The Mansley Centre
Timothy’s Bridge Road
Stratford upon Avon
CV37 9NQ
Name

Open University Worldwide

Web
http://www.ouw.co.uk External site opens in new window
Phone
+44 (0) 1908 274066
Address
Walton Hall
Milton Keynes
MK7 6AA
Notes
NB. As of May 2016 Open University Worldwide are no longer distributing DVDs. They have posted this message on their website: ‘Unfortunately Open University Worldwide Limited has decided that product sales are no longer viable given the reduced funding to Higher Education institutions and diminishing demand for the products we have traditionally stocked. At present the Open University Students Association (OUSA) will continue to sell the "Good Study Guide", and we are in discussion with other possible distributors to continue to make The Open University’s products available for purchase. As soon as we have any information on other channels of distribution we will update this notice’. Some products are still available via second hand dealers on Amazon.co.uk

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