New guidelines for expert witnesses

The Society publishes advice.

The Society has recently published new guidelines to represent best professional practice for psychologists acting as independent experts, or as professional witnesses on behalf of their employer. This is the fourth edition, replacing all prior versions.

The role of psychology in supporting various legal processes has expanded markedly in recent years, with a welcome the increase in the influence of research from psychology. This has involved an increasing number of members undertaking expert witness work, including those whose research or practice may not have routinely involved them in contact with the legal system. The new guidelines are therefore designed to be as clear and accessible as possible. They also reflect a number of revisions in the advice to psychologists, resulting from recent legal changes and increased levels of accountability of experts.

In light of such changes the guidelines place a greater stress on issues of ethical and professional conduct. The importance of maintaining professional standards of conduct, within often adversarial settings, is stressed. In line with the Society’s role in promoting psychology, the need to ensure that psychology as a discipline and a profession is not brought into disrepute is stressed.

In support of Society members the Expert Witness Advisory Group of the Society is also available to address ethical and professional issues raised from this area of work. Any ethical or professional concerns can be raised with the group and should be addressed to the Chair of the Expert Witness Advisory Group, at the Leicester office of the Society. 

Professor David Crighton
Chair, Expert Witness Advisory Group  

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