Memory and the Law Group

Memory and the Law – a dereliction of duty – Part 1.

Posted by Peter Harvey

We are going to run a short series of posts concerning the BPS’s recent decision to dissolve the Memory and Law Task and Finish Group. There is a long, complex and controversial history to both the group and issue some of which we will highlight in future posts. The brief background relates to the BPS Memory and the Law reports (2008 and 2010). These are now archived as, according to the BPS “…they are no longer regarded as reflecting the Society’s current position…”. The group set up to review and revise them (presumably in the light of more recent evidence) has now been disbanded because “…it had not delivered the required output within the required timescale and failed to reach a consensus on key proposed elements of the document…”. On hearing the news that the group has now been permanently disbanded, I sent the following email (17 January 2021) to the President, and the Chairs of the Research and Practice Boards:

Dear President,

I understand that that, after its recent suspension, the Memory and the Law Task and Finish Group is to be permanently and formally disbanded. Before I take this matter further I would be grateful for clarification.

1. On whose authority was this decision made? 

2. When will the membership be informed of this decision?

3. What will the membership be told about the reasons for this decision?

4. What does the BPS intend to do about rescinding its previous documents (still in circulation) and advising both practitioners and the wider legal system that the BPS no longer feels able to offer evidence-based guidance on the controversies concerning how scientific research on memory should and should not be used in court?

As you will see I have copied this email to those within the BPS who I believe have an interest in this matter.

I should add that I do not wish you to treat this as a complaint to be channelled though the complaints process. This is matter of policy. I am requesting that you and your senior professional office-holders address this as a matter of urgency.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Harvey AFBsS; member number 5187; former Chair Division of Clinical Psychology; former Chief Examiner and Chair of Board of Examiners BPS Qualification in Clinical Psychology).

3 thoughts on “Memory and the Law – a dereliction of duty – Part 1.”

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