Police interviews with adult reporters of historical child sexual abuse: exploring the link between verbal rapport and information obtained.

Catherine Louise Chenier*, Rebecca Milne, Andie Shawyer, Andy Williams

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Police officers and academics agree that rapport is important when interviewing victims and witnesses, although previous research has found that officers do not always engage in rapport-building behaviours during interviews. Interviews with complainants reporting histori-cal child sexual abuse may be key to police investigations, as physical or corroborating evidence is often not available.

Objective: This research explored the possible effect of verbal rapport-building behaviour on the elicitation of investigation-relevant details in historical child sexual abuse victim interviews.

Participants and Setting: A sample of interviews (N = 44) with adults reporting historical child sexual abuse in a northern Canadian territory with a large Indigenous population was examined.

Methods: Interviews were evaluated for interviewer verbal rapport-building behaviours, using a framework derived from Tickle-Degnen and Rosenthal’s three domain model of rapport. Inter-views were also coded for details given by the interviewee.

Results: Results showed that verbal rapport was significantly positively correlated with both to-tal details (r = .621, p < .001) and abuse relevant details (r = .518, p < .001). Chronological Rap-port Maps were piloted, to show the use of rapport behaviours over the course of interviews, and the possible effect over time of these behaviours on information yield.

Conclusions: The results show that information yield is higher when more rapport behaviours are demonstrated and both parties work together harmoniously, even after a long delay. Further re-search is needed on the experience of police interviews for Indigenous complainants.
Original languageEnglish
JournalChild Abuse & Neglect
Publication statusAccepted for publication - 28 Oct 2022

Keywords

  • historical child sexual abuse
  • police interviews
  • verbal rapport
  • Indigenous

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