Interviewing in forensic settings

Research output: Other contribution


Interviews constitute a core activity of the investigative process. Information obtained from victims, witnesses, and suspects in the course of investigative interviews not only provides important investigatory leads but also informs the evidence in subsequent legal proceedings. Well-conducted interviews advance investigations by eliciting high quality and reliable information. Poorly conducted interviews run the risk of eliciting unreliable information, destroying the credibility of a witness or victim, and contaminating the investigative process. Crucially, poor interviewing practice can lead to serious miscarriages of justice. Obtaining high quality reliable information through ethical and effective investigative interviewing is vital to the delivery of justice. The aim of this article is to enable any reader, researchers and practitioners alike, to become cognizant of key topics in the field of investigative interviewing. This is a sizeable and complex research field, spanning laboratory research evaluating the cognitive and social components of memory performance under different encoding and retrieval conditions, through to more applied work examining the performance of specific interview techniques and the detailed analysis of archival data. The task of the interviewer in forensic settings is a challenging one and hinges on the ability of the interviewer to elicit a comprehensive and accurate account. The opening section of this article points readers in the direction of important background literature to inform their understanding of the psychological factors underpinning an interviewee’s ability to provide such an account. General overviews of research and practice in investigative interviewing provide the context for the remainder of the article, which examines witness and suspect interviews separately, highlighting the specific challenges associated with interviews in each category. Deliberately, and reflecting the large body of relevant literature, special attention is devoted to investigative interviews with children and other vulnerable individuals. Extending the usual reach of articles on investigative interviewing, the challenges faced by interviewers in intelligence settings are also examined, as too are the needs of individuals in particular interview contexts, such as refugees and asylum seekers. A consistent theme throughout the article emphasizes the need for high quality training, reflection, and evaluation to ensure ethical and effective interviewing in forensic settings.
Original languageEnglish
TypeOxford Bibliographies in Psychology
Media of outputOnline resource
PublisherOxford University Press
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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