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CBA Lecture: Voice Identification in Criminal Cases

Wednesday 6th September
18.00 – 19.00

Introduction: Charlotte Newell KC (5KBW),  CBA Education Joint Chair

Speaker: Kirsty McDougall, Assistant Professor of Phonetics at the University of Cambridge and a fellow of Selwyn College.

Speaker: Jeremy Robson, De Montfort University

Voice identification occurs less frequently in criminal cases than eyewitness identification but is just as capable as resulting in the conviction of a defendant. The problems of eyewitness identification are well documented but practitioners may be less familiar with the problems of voice identification.

Kirsty McDougall will introduce the discipline of Forensic Phonetics and explain the different kind of cases in which a forensic phonetician will analyse speech recordings. This will be followed by an overview of the current UK procedure used for collecting earwitness evidence in cases where there is no speech recording from the crime scene, but the witness remembers the perpetrator’s voice.

Jeremy Robson will provide an overview of how the case law has addressed the problems of voice identification and will offer some tips for dealing with cases in practice.

Kirsty McDougall is Assistant Professor of Phonetics at the University of Cambridge and a fellow of Selwyn College. She specialises in forensic phonetics and speaker characteristics and has a particular interest in the construction and implementation of voice parades. From time to time she acts as an expert witness in cases involving phonetic evidence, particularly earwitness evidence.

Jeremy Robson was called to the Bar in 1999 and practised from KCH between 2004 and 2010 and has been an associate tenant since then. He entered academia in 2008, initially at NTU before moving to De Montfort University in 2018. He teaches on a number of modules relating to criminal law, procedure and evidence. His research interests relate to criminal evidence and the role of speech and language in the justice system. In 2023 he completed his PhD on judicial decision-making in the criminal courts.

This talk is being offered as part of the IVIP project, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council which is developing improved procedures for conducting voice parades. As part of this project we are conducting research on the experience of criminal lawyers in dealing with cases involving voice identification.

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This lecture will be recorded.


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