Using linguistics to improve the delivery of justice

Forensic casework requires valid, reliable and rigorous methods the development of which is a key function of CFL research

Centre for Forensic Linguistics

The use of Centre for Forensic Linguistics research-based linguistic analysis by the Courts has considerable

significance for the victims of crime, for the accused, and for those engaged in civil battles.

Evidence of this impact can also be found not only in guilty and not guilty verdicts but also in summing-up and judgements. In one case involving fraud and extortion the judge commented:

“Dr Grant, the linguist for the prosecution, provided convincing and measured evidence. This evidence contributes considerably to the case.”

Linguistics in Text Messaging

In comparative authorship, analysis methods have been developed and evaluated for analysis involving longer texts, texts of a few hundred words and short-form messaging, such as SMS text messages. These methods have been applied to cases of stalking, fraud and murder.

Further, in one murder case, an appeal against conviction was lodged solely on the grounds of the value of the linguistic evidence provided by

Professor Coulthard. The Court of Appeal upheld the evidence indicating that Professor Coulthard’s evidence was suitably cautious and as appropriate

did not extend beyond the research base. This judgement provides a significant precedent for the continued acceptance of linguistic evidence in the Courts

Individually, members of the CFL have worked on more than 300 cases of stalking, sexual assault, murder and terrorism. This involves analysis, expert report writing and appearances in Court.

Staff Profile

Staff Profile

Dr Tim Grant

Director, Centre for Forensic Linguistics

I have particular interest and expertise in forensic authorship analysis focusing on short form messages such as SMS text messages, Twitter posts and Internet Relay Chat


Centre for Forensic Linguistics on CrimeWatch

Centre for Forensic Linguistics on CrimeWatch

The Centre of Forensic Linguistics was called upon to investigate hate mail