collection of evidence

Background: suspects

Suspects: interrogation - extract a confession from a suspect.

PACE Act made it so interviews had to be tape recorded and limited use of coercion during interrogation. They are accusatory. 

Inbau and Reid - Reid Nine Steps of Interrogation = direct positive confrontation (suspect told directly), theme development (suggest possible reasons), handling denials (prevents psychological advantange). Can lead to false confessions. 

Gudjonsson placed false confessions into 3 types:

  • 1. Voluntary false confession - personally motivated, no external pressure, mentally ill
  • 2. Coerced-compliant false confession - escape the situation.
  • 3. Coerced-internalised false confession - vulnerable individuals can't recall info.

Gudjonsson et al case study: 17yr old youth, accused of 2 murders, coerced-compliant false confession. No forensic evidence. Interviewed for 14hrs. No evidence of mental illness after jailed. Scored highly on Gudjonsson suggestibility scale. 

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Background: witnesses


Fisher et al reviewed standard interview and found short closed Qs, interrupting and leading Qs = false information being given.

  • Led to development of the cognitive interview (reinstating context , multiple retrieval, focused concentration, varied retrieval).
  • Research in America = after 1hr of training in the use of CI, sixth formers could find more details than officers using SPI.
  • Fisher, Geiselman and Amador - compared performance of detectives before and after training. Field exp with repeated measures, 16 detectives tape recorded interviews. 7/16 were trained in CI leaving 9 controls. Further interviews conducted. 47% more info recorded in post-training, 6/7 did better. When comparing trained and untrained, 63% more info was recorded by trained group.
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Key Research: Memon and Higham (a review of CI)

Review article covering 4 themes: 1. how effective each component is, 2. comparison with other interview methods, 3. how to measure memory performance 4. how training quality can influence interviewer performance. 

  • Effectiveness of the components of CI = context reinstatement is the most effective, but all of them are useful. It is difficult to draw firm conclusions due to problems looking at each component differently. 
  • Comparison with other methods = shouldn't compare the CI with standard police interview, it is better to compare to another similar interview such as Guided Memory Interview (GMI) or Structured Interview (SI). When compared to structured interview, the CI elicits more info.
  • Measuring memory performance = don't discard any peripheral information as it may still provide some insight into the crime details, even if at this stage it can't be classes as accurate/inaccurate. 
  • Quality of training = quality and amount of training is important. Experienced officers should be used so that they don't resist the training. Pre and post training analysis to ensure techniques are improving interviewing and feedback should be provided to ensure they continue to be used in an effective way. - at least a 2 day programme needed.

Conclusions: 1. effectiveness = inconclusive 2. individual differences in interviewing 3. difficulty of finding control groups.

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Strategies for police interviews

witnesses = cognitive interview       suspects = interrogation

Another strategy is: PEACE model can be used with both witnesses and suspects. Consists of 5 steps: Preparation, Engage, Account, Closure and Evaluate. Non-accusatory and reduces number of false confessions. 

  • Preparation - planning session taking into account all the info and identifies key issues
  • Engage - engage interviewee by maintaining rapport, identify important evidential info
  • Account - initiating and supporting, using open-ended prompt e.g. "tell me what happened". Break account into manageable topics, questions should be short and simple.
  • Closure - planned and structured so it doesn't end abruptly. Interviewer should accurately summarised what the interviewee has said. Any questions answered. Explain what happens next.
  • Evaluation - determine whether further action is needed, how does their account fit in with the case, reflect on own performance. 

Walsh and Bull illustrate the effective demonstration of the skills within PEACE model is realted to more effective interview outcomes. 63% PEACE secured full accounts/confessions. However, 92% of weakest interviewers failed to obtain accounts/confessions. 

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