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, 2021 (6). pp. 442-460. ISSN 0011-135X

Bodies_and_Robes_revised2_final_complete.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial 4.0.

Download (324kB) | Preview
Official URL:


This article discusses a type of expert evidence in which a witness, often a policeofficer or other state official, informs the court about patterns of criminal activityand in some cases draws inferences as to the defendant’s involvement in suchactivity. Their claim to expertise rests not on academic knowledge or scientificresearch but on some combination of personal experience and information fromcolleagues and informants which is considered to comprise part of the “body ofknowledge” in their field. While we accept that such witnesses may have genuineexpertise, the reliability of their evidence is as much in need of critical scrutinyas 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
Uncontrolled Keywords: expert evidence, gangs, human trafficking
Subjects: M200 Law by Topic
Department: Faculties > Business and Law > Northumbria Law School
Depositing User: Elena Carlaw
Date Deposited: 03 May 2022 15:40
Last Modified: 01 Jun 2022 03:30

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics