Case Analysis

Cognitive Interview

The cognitive interview is used to maximise the accuracy of information gathered during interviews. The idea behind it is that memory is reconstructive and that confabulation may occur, also that physical memories in the brain might decay and memories are lost.


  • Attempts to establish good rapport between interviewee and interviewer.
  • Witness can tell their story/version of events without interruption.
  • The interviewer uses imagery and scenes to help aid recall.
  • The interview is closed in a way that means it could be continued if more info is required.

1. Reinstating the context

  • The witness is asked to form an image of the environment and they can be asked not only about objects in the room and what was happening but to also reinstate their emotions at the time, also any sounds/smells there were etc.
  • The interviewer may also take you back to the environment if it's needed.

2. Reporting everything

  • Witnesses are encouraged to freely recall their narrative, without being interrupted.
  • They are encourage to report every detail, even if they think that some information is irrelevant as it may act as a trigger for key information.
  • The interviewer is then able to ask questions for clarification.

3. Using different perspectives

  • Witnesses are asked to report the incident from different perspectives, describing what they think other witnesses would have seen.
  • They should be encouraged to only report on what they remember and not what they thought the person would have seen, as there is a risk that the witness may make up what they thought the other person might have seen.
  • This method can encourage recall of events that would otherwise be omitted.

4. Starting at different points in the story

  • Starting from different points seems to give more focussed and detailed recall, and can help to avoid confabulation.

Other elements

  • Using open questions encourages free response and detail.
  • Neutral questions are asked.
  • The interview has a tunnel effect; it starts with broaded questions then narrows down to focus on specifics.

Enhanced Cognitive Interview

This differs/builds upon the cognitive interview by:

  • Allowing a gap between a response and the next question.
  • Using language that suits the witness (more informal, like a conversation).
  • Avoiding any distractions.

Ethical Interviewing

Interviewing crime suspects must be done ethically. It is important to recognise that they interview is a social situation and the interviewer may bring their own views and judgements to the process. However, the interviewer is responsible for working ethically and recognising that the suspect has rights that must be adhered to. The ethical interview works on building rapport with suspects in order to avoid negative emotions and to allow self determination (confession).

Case preparation

  • The interviewer must be aware of all aspects of the investigation and…


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