Applied Cognitive Psychology

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Volume 5 Issue 2 (March/April 1991), Pages fmi-fmi, 87-172

The ‘Notice to Detained Persons’, PACE Codes, and reading ease (pages 89-95)


This paper looks at the reading ease of the ‘Notice to Detained Persons’ and the PACE Codes of Practice. The documents were analysed by using the Flesch formula for reading ease (Flesch, 1948). The results indicate that the leaflet of Notice, given to arrested persons at police stations in order to advise them of their legal rights, would be fully understood by fewer than one in four of the general population. The Codes of Practice are even more complicated, and require substantially above‐average intelligence and comprehension. An exploratory study into the comprehension complexity of the Notice to Detained Persons was carried out on 15 offenders with IQ values below 100. The results support the findings obtained by the Flesch formula, indicating that the Notice is far too complicated for the intellectually disadvantaged to understand their rights fully as outlined in the document. The implications of the findings are discussed.

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