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Development of the Reporting Information about Networks and Groups (RING) task: a method for eliciting information from memory about associates, groups, and networks

Lorraine Hope (University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK)
Feni Kontogianni (University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK)
Kristoffer Geyer (Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK)
Wayne Thomas (University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK)

The Journal of Forensic Practice

ISSN: 2050-8794

Article publication date: 11 October 2019

Issue publication date: 8 November 2019




Eliciting detailed and comprehensive information about the structure, organisation and relationships between individuals involved in organised crime gangs, terrorist cells and networks is a challenge in investigations and debriefings. Drawing on memory theory, the purpose of this paper is to develop and test the Reporting Information about Networks and Groups (RING) task, using an innovative piece of information elicitation software.


Using an experimental methodology analogous to an intelligence gathering context, participants (n=124) were asked to generate a visual representation of the “network” of individuals attending a recent family event using the RING task.


All participants successfully generated visual representations of the relationships between people attending a remembered social event. The groups or networks represented in the RING task output diagrams also reflected effective use of the software functionality with respect to “describing” the nature of the relationships between individuals.

Practical implications

The authors succeeded in establishing the usability of the RING task software for reporting detailed information about groups of individuals and the relationships between those individuals in a visual format. A number of important limitations and issues for future research to consider are examined.


The RING task is an innovative development to support the elicitation of targeted information about networks of people and the relationships between them. Given the importance of understanding human networks in order to disrupt criminal activity, the RING task may contribute to intelligence gathering and the investigation of organised crime gangs and terrorist cells and networks.



This research was funded by the Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats (ESRC Award: ES/N009614/1).


Hope, L., Kontogianni, F., Geyer, K. and Thomas, W. (2019), "Development of the Reporting Information about Networks and Groups (RING) task: a method for eliciting information from memory about associates, groups, and networks", The Journal of Forensic Practice, Vol. 21 No. 4, pp. 240-247.



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