Bodies of knowledge and robes of expertise: expert evidence about drugs, gangs and human trafficking

Ward, Tony and Fouladvand, Shahrzad (2021) Bodies of knowledge and robes of expertise: expert evidence about drugs, gangs and human trafficking. Criminal Law Review (6). pp. 442-460. ISSN 0011-135X

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Abstract

This article discusses a type of expert evidence in which a witness, often a police officer or other state official, informs the court about patterns of criminal activity and in some cases draws inferences as to the defendant’s involvement in such activity. Their claim to expertise rests not on academic knowledge or scientific research but on some combination of personal experience and information from colleagues and informants which is considered to comprise part of the ‘body of knowledge’ in their field. While we accept that such witnesses may have genuine expertise, the reliability of their evidence is as much in need of critical scrutiny as that of scientific experts. We examine in particular the evidence of police officers who infer gang membership from rap lyrics and videos, and the decisions of the Single Competent Authority identifying victims of human trafficking, which have recently been found admissible as hearsay evidence of expert opinion.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Law
Subjects: K Law > K Law in General. Comparative and uniform Law. Jurisprudence
K Law > K Law in General. Comparative and uniform Law. Jurisprudence > K0520 Comparative law. International uniform law > K5000 Criminal law and procedure
K Law > K Law in General. Comparative and uniform Law. Jurisprudence > K0520 Comparative law. International uniform law > K5000 Criminal law and procedure > K5011-5015 Criminal law. General
Depositing User: Shahrzad Fouladvand
Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2021 11:42
Last Modified: 10 May 2021 08:45
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/97768

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