Responding to reticence in investigative interviews of alleged victims with mental illness: Maintaining rapport.

Tone Aker*, Patrick Risan, Rebecca Milne

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Investigative interviews of people with severe mental illness are potentially challenging for police interviewers. The purpose of the study was to explore how police interviewers respond to interviewees' expressions of reticence to maintain rapport. To reach our research aims, we studied police interview transcripts of all interviews of adult victims with a mental illness classified as vulnerable and conducted at Barnahus in Norway in 2015-2017. The final sample consisted of nine transcriptions from real-life investigative interviews with six female alleged victims of sexual abuse. A thematic analysis of the transcripts showed that the police interviewers responded to reticence in three main ways, by acknowledging the interviewee's state, encouraging and showing concern, and addressing the interviewee's needs. We discuss the findings in relation to current protocols for investigative interviewing and provide suggestions for further research.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNordic Journal of Studies in Policing
Publication statusAccepted for publication - 9 Jan 2023


  • Investigative interview
  • mental illness
  • sexual abuse
  • rapport

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