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In this issue (March 2017):
The interrogation of suspects in a criminal investigation is a prosecution’s most potent weapon and it is sometimes the best available evidence. Identifying the profile of an effective interrogator may improve interview performance. Data concerning personality dimensions, interviewing competencies, and communicative suspicion, a form of cognitive bias, were collected from police interrogators employed with medium and large police forces across Canada. The study confirmed the relations between several Police Interview competencies and traits from the Five Factor Model previously reported by DeFruyt, Bockstaele, Taris and Van Hiel (2006) and Smets (2009). General Communicative Suspicion (Levine and McCornack, 1991) was negatively related to many of the competencies and personality factors thought to be good indices of job performance. Results are discussed in light of the importance of evaluating the roles played by personality, competencies and cognitive biases in the context of police interrogations.
This study explored the effect of training on investigative interviewers’ attitudes and beliefs related to child sexual abuse (CSA). The one-year training provided knowledge about the influence of attitudes and beliefs when investigating alleged crimes against children, guidance for using an interview protocol developed by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and the theory behind its use and supervision and feedback for the participants. In total, 27 investigative interviewers took part in the training. Attitudes and beliefs related to CSA were measured with a questionnaire at the beginning and end of training and a year after the training was completed. It was found that the training decreased the total number of incorrect beliefs held by participants and that this positive effect was maintained a year after the training. Already at the beginning of the training few participants were found to hold biased attitudes towards CSA, such as strongly relying on intuition, and the results improved further by the end of the training. Nevertheless, the follow-up revealed that, after a year, participants tended to trust their intuitions more than at the end of the training. Implications of the study for training investigative interviewers will be discussed.
Best-practice forensic interview protocols recommend that interviews with children should include a practice narrative. While the benefits of practice narratives have been consistently demonstrated in non-Aboriginal populations, particular interaction features in many Aboriginal communities may affect how the interview technique applies to Aboriginal children. Our study aimed to examine the effectiveness of practice narratives on the memory reports of 64 Aboriginal children (6 to 15 years) from three remote Australian communities. Children participated in a staged 30-minute innocuous event, and were interviewed one to two days later by experienced interviewers (half with a practice narrative and half without). Logistic and multiple linear regressions demonstrated that practice narratives did not predict the accuracy or informativeness of Aboriginal children’s subsequent accounts. Unexpectedly, results revealed that girls in our sample produced more words and target details, as well as fewer confabulations compared to the boys. The implications of these findings for forensic interviews with Aboriginal children are discussed.
This study explored the performance of interpreters in military intelligence-gathering interrogations. We coded transcripts of 10 interrogations of one detainee at an overseas U.S. military detention facility. The same interrogator conducted each session with the assistance of two interpreters who participated in one session together and worked alone in the remaining sessions. We coded interpretations as accurate (gist) or one of three errors: omission, substitution, or addition. We report accuracy and error rates across interpreters, as well as differences in interpretation accuracy as a function of the direction of interpretation (English-toArabic or vice versa). Interpreters were largely accurate, conveying the gist of information in at least 82% of interpretation attempts. However, they made a variety of errors which differed depending upon the direction of interpretation. Interpreters generally refrained from assuming the role of interrogator and using tactics or rapport building techniques. Implications and future directions are discussed.
This paper contains a case study, in which we study the criminal file to address the validity of a rape allegation. In this case, a woman accuses her former male partner of raping her repeatedly. The criminal file contains exclusive material that helps to answer the question of validity of the allegations in an objective manner. The alleged crimes, for instance, were recorded and documents that are normally concealed, such as the police journal, were made public. Our analysis revealed the professional misconduct of several important actors in the case. It reveals a process that could come across as a conspiracy to convict the accused of crimes he did not commit, but can be explained by tunnel vision. The police officers and the Public Prosecutor were so convinced that the allegations were valid that they were willing to sacrifice the truth to get a conviction. Ten arguments were presented to support the conclusion that the allegation was false. Falsified evidence, proven false allegations, a deceitful complainant, and lack of evidence are but a few of these arguments. This case is a perfect illustration of the devastating effects of a false allegation of rape. To date, the accused still suffers from the dire consequences of these accusations.