In The Evidence Chamber, twelve (English system) or fifteen (Scottish system) players make up a jury who must review documents and audio and video evidence on iPads to reach a verdict on a murder case which hinges on two types of forensic evidence: gait analysis and DNA.
The audience watches ‘testimonies’ from characters involved and expert witnesses. Their decision-making process is supported by explanatory materials about forensic evidence. The experience is structured to measure the impact of these materials: the bespoke control system logs anonymised data on each juror’s decision-making process. A post-verdict debrief allows audiences to deepen their understanding of forensic processes and criminal justice procedures.
The Evidence Chamber is commissioned by the Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science (LRCFS) at the University of Dundee. LRCFS was awarded a Gold Engage Watermark for Public Engagement by the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE), for their work with forensic science and legal practitioners as well as citizens playing an active role in helping to improve the use and understanding of science in the justice system.
The Evidence Chamber is simultaneously a public engagement tool and a way of doing research. Within the experience, players use comics produced by LRCFS to help them understand the forensic evidence that they are presented with. The public’s responses to the presentations of expert witnesses within the case are used to develop scientists’ communication skills.
“The Evidence Chamber: Playful Science Communication and Research Through Digital Storytelling” Heather Doran, Dan Barnard, Joe McAlister, Rachel Briscoe, Lucina Hackman & Niamh Nic Daeid (2021) Frontiers in Communication, 6, p.255
“Evaluating the art-science interface” Rachel Briscoe, Heather Doran & Niamh Nic Daeid
National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement conference, online, December 2020
The Evidence Chamber was used as a training tool for High Sheriffs in England in September 2020.
LRCFS are developing curriculum resources to accompany the experience for undergraduate law and forensics students.
LRCFS are working on an analysis of the anonymised data collected during the first 30 performances of The Evidence Chamber.
WRITER Rachel Briscoe | DIRECTOR Dan Barnard | COMPUTATIONAL ARTIST Joe McAlister | CAST Sabrina Carter, Gillian Lees, Gary Mackay, John Milroy, Graeme Rooney | EXPERT WITNESSES Heather Doran & Paul McFadyen | ADDITIONAL CONTENT DEVELOPMENT Niamh Nic Daeid, Heather Doran, Chris Hall & Paul McFadyen | WITH THANKS TO Kris De Meyer, William Galinsky and Marianne Maxwell