What really happens in police interviews with suspects: tactics and confessions

S. Soukara, R. Bull, Aldert Vrij, Mark Turner, Julie Cherryman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There exists very limited published research on what actually happens during police interviews with suspects, and the research which does exist has identified a number of weaknesses. In attempts to remedy this, some governments have brought in legislative changes and some police forces have sought to improve their training. The present study examined the extent to which a number of psychological tactics identified in the literature were actually used by a major police force in England. Audio tape recordings of interviews were assessed by a number of forensic psychologists. It was found that coercive tactics were used very infrequently but that tactics concerned with the seeking of information were common. There were relatively few correlations between (i) the extent to which suspects changed 'position' from denial toward confession and (ii) the degree of usage of each of the 17 tactics. Most of the tactics had a stronger degree of usage in interviews in which the suspects continued to deny/never confessed. The relationships between these findings and changes in relevant legislation and training are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)493-506
Number of pages14
JournalPsychology, Crime & Law
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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