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In this issue (June 2018):
The field of police investigations has been gradually progressing from accusatorial approaches to inquisitorial approaches in the context of interviewing suspects. This article explores the utility of motivational interviewing, which was taken from the field of counseling and provides a structured approach to engaging individuals in moving from ambivalence to motivation to change, in the context of police investigative interviews with suspects. Motivational interviewing offers an ethically driven approach to rapport building and can be effective in many situations. This article highlights the contexts where motivational interviewing may be applied and where it is contraindicated. Implications for training of police investigators and for research will also be discussed.
The current study investigated the experiences of nine UK police officers who specialise in the interviewing of vulnerable witnesses. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with each of the officers, the interviews were then analysed using an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) approach, hence the relatively low sample size. Three key themes were identified. These themes were; pressures on interviewers including cognitive load, the culture within the police service and stress; the lack of development of interviewing skills including few opportunities for continuing professional development and feedback; and witness considerations including rapport building and interviewing facilities. Participants were acutely aware of the importance of Achieving Best Evidence (ABE) guidelines (Home Office, 2011). However, compliance in the real-world was perceived to be difficult and barriers to conducting high-quality interviews were identified.
This study explored the effectiveness of Dutch police interrogation practices in relation to psychologically vulnerable suspects. Examples of psychological vulnerabilities are mental disorders, abnormal mental states, and intellectual disabilities. These psychological vulnerabilities of suspects may interfere with, for example, coping with the stress of police interrogations, understanding questions, decision-making, and overseeing the implications of their answers. The General Interrogation Strategy used by Dutch police officers is an information gathering interrogation method that includes both investigative and accusatory components. In this study, suspects in police custody (N = 36) were psychologically screened for intellectual disabilities, mental disorders, abnormal mental states and substance abuse. Interrogation transcripts were analyzed with the Griffiths Question Map and classified as either appropriate (about 11%) or inappropriate (about 86%). Vulnerability of suspects was unrelated to appropriateness of the interrogations. Results showed that 69% of the suspects could be labelled as vulnerable, and about 85% of these vulnerable suspects were interrogated inappropriately. The findings indicate that more research is needed on the appropriateness of current Dutch interrogation methods.
Autism spectrum disorder presents unique challenges for police officers seeking to obtain best evidence. In this article, we outline some of the characteristics of autism that require special consideration at interview (to best support autistic people), together with findings from a survey of almost 400 UK police officers regarding their experiences and perceptions of challenges they face when interviewing autistic people. We discuss current challenges, what strategies may be helpful and directions for future research and practice.
As a result of technological developments, digital recording of police interrogations has become a straightforward option in many legal systems. Videos of interrogations can now be used during criminal proceedings, instead of or in addition to written reports. Text, image and sound have different effects in the criminal justice system. This article first discusses the existing research into these effects. A study is presented in which written reports of 55 real-life Dutch police interrogations of suspects are compared to the audio and video recordings. Interrogations appear to be rigorously summarized and edited in the written reports, which may lead to biased or misinformed judgments. Risks for fact-finding are discussed and ways of enabling a better review of police interrogations are examined.