Interviewing suspects

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2.1 detecting lies

  • purpose of an interview is reffered to as an interrogation and its purpose is to esablish a suspects guilt or innocence
  • An effective interview will enable future prosecution
  • police need to be able to detect lies and avoid gaining false confessions when interrogating
  • police tend to believe theyre good at detecting lies
  • reading body language and interperating non-verbal signals
  • polygraph is a device that measures changes in skin conductivity and heart rate
  • possible to fool polygraphs
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2.2 Interrogation Techniques

  • Since 1984 introduction of police and criminal evidence act, all interviews must be recorded on machines in triplicate
  • this means one copy for suspects solicitor, one to be opened in court and another for police use
  • this ensures suspect is protected from being pressured by the officers' interrogation techniques
  • interrogations are accusatory in nature and suspect is often told that there is no doubt in their guilt
  • tends to begin by asking series of statements to suspect that will require little or no response 
  • officer will also use a variety of persuasion techniques such as leaving the suspect in isolation before the interrogation 
  • increases levels of anxiety and can make them 'slip' up and confess
  • overall interrogation works on one of two principles:
  • -frightening the suspect into making a confession by exaggerating facts
  • -by tricking suspect into giving a false confession
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2.3 False confessions

  • estimated that over 80% of solved criminal cases are solved by a confession
  • a significant number of confessions are wrongful convictions and obtained via coercive questioning
  • most obvious evidence of guilt
  • confessions relieve doubt in minds of judges and jurors
  • in GB, false confessions ranked second only to mistaken identifications as a cause of wrongful convictions
  • suggests that what people say is more influential than why they say it
  • Kassin et al (1985) suggests there are 3 types of false confession:
  • -Voluntary confessions offered in abscence of any obvious external pressure
  • -Coerced compliant confession which is elicited by forceful or persistant questioning + where suspect confesses to escape a stressful situation
  • -Coerced internalised confession where the person becomes at least temporarily persuaded
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