Analysing spoken language in legal contexts: the challenges and rewards of applying linguistic research to professional police practice

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk


This presentation discusses the progress made to date by Aston University’s centre for research on Spoken Interaction in Legal Contexts (SILC), of which I am the Director, and will reflect on the challenges and rewards of conducting highly applied research with a “real-world” professional context at its core, and a focus on building meaningful collaboration with practitioners.
Our main project – ‘For the Record’ – has focused on improving the current treatment of police interview data as evidence, as it passes through the criminal justice process from interview room to courtroom. My previous research had demonstrated how interview data are (unintentionally) distorted and misinterpreted as they pass through the system, and highlighted the serious implications in terms of interference with criminal evidence. Our expansion in 2019 into the Aston Institute for Forensic Linguistics, and the creation of SILC, enabled us to build on this platform and work collaboratively with police partners to instigate real change in the current processes, and thus – hopefully – to make a significant contribution to improving criminal procedure as carried out in police stations and courtrooms on a daily basis.
This paper reflects on our experiences of designing and implementing the FTR project in collaboration with a UK police force, present the key findings and outcomes, and consider the very specific challenges and dilemmas such research entails, including thorny issues around data, ethics, and researcher stance.
Period18 Nov 2022
Event titleGermanic Society for Forensic Linguistics (GSFL) Online 2022
Event typeConference
Degree of RecognitionInternational