Questionnaire study exploring police officers’ perceptions of vulnerable eyewitnesses with mental health needs

Research Institution / Organisation

University of Winchester

Principal Researcher

Beth Parsons

Level of Research


Project Start Date

July 2016

Research Context

​The overall aim of this research is to extend the knowledge and understanding of vulnerable eyewitnesses with mental health needs in terms of their capacity to provide accurate and reliable evidence. This particular study will contribute toward this objective as it will allow the gathering of information on current perceptions held by police officers regarding witnesses with anxiety and depression.

It is very important that a study of this nature is conducted, not only for the purpose of building a more comprehensive body of research on this matter within an academic context, but also for the purpose of further enhancing current police practice across England and Wales. Within the field of Forensic Psychology, it is evident that the literature on this issue is insufficient and, while there has been some investigation into legal professionals’ perceptions of vulnerable witnesses, there is no empirical evidence to support the findings. As a result, it is crucial that further research is conducted.

Research Methodology

​Police officers aged between 18 and 60 years from all ranks and positions are being invited to take part in this study and the aim is for a minimum of 50 responses.
Data will be collected via an online questionnaire. The questionnaire will be constructed based on previous literature within the field as well as the researcher’s own knowledge and understanding of mental health disorders, specifically anxiety and depression. The questionnaire will take approximately 15-20 minutes to complete and will follow a simple procedure for responding. Initially, participants will be asked to provide some demographic details such as, age and gender. They will then be asked about their legal profession in terms of:

  1. their role and experience
  2. their contact with witnesses with anxiety and depression
  3. their perceptions of the accuracy of witnesses with anxiety and depression
  4. support for witnesses with anxiety and depression
  5. suitability of current guidelines and what they include and 
  6. ideas for the future.


The online questionnaire is available at the link below:

A quantitative approach will be the method of data analysis for this study due to the fact that the questions will be close-ended and scaled-response questions. Descriptive statistics will be used, predominantly means and percentages.

Interim reports and publications

​Not available

Date due for completion

January 2018
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