A national evaluation of PEACE investigative interviewing

  • Colin Clarke

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


In 1992 the police service of England and Wales introduced basic interviewing training for police officers. Training was based on the mnemonic PEACE (Planning & preparation, Engage & explain, Account, Closure, & Evaluation) providing an interview structure, and the name of a five day experiential course. The course included guidance on interviewing suspects and witnesses, incorporating good practice from research in the fields of social, cognitive and occupational psychology. A pre release evaluation based on pre and post course assessments, found that PEACE training improved interviewing skills and knowledge (McGurk, Carr & McGurk, 1993). However, subsequent unpublished studies found that PEACE training was not having the positive impact that had been found in the initial evaluation (e.g. Jones, 1996; Rigg, 1999). The research reported here set out to clarify whether PEACE training was improving police interviewing skills, and if it was not, identify the skills gaps. Initially a survey was conducted to determine the number of police officers trained to use PEACE. This was followed by an analysis of 177 real interviews with suspects of crime, using a specially constructed rating scale. In addition, a sample of 75 real interviews with witnesses were analysed with a separate rating scale. Further, analysis was then conducted, to examine the interview process with witnesses, on a subset of 10 witness interviews concerning the crime of assault. Finally, a Behaviourally Anchored Rating Scale (Smith & Kendell, 1963) was developed for assessing interviews with suspects. Training had little impact on officers’ interviewing skills for interviews with either suspects or witnesses. Workplace supervision by police officers was found to improve communication skills and interview structure for interviews with suspects. This finding adds to the developing literature on the importance of ongoing supervision for investigative interviewing. However, the checklist use by the police service for assessing such interviews was found to be flawed. Interviews with witnesses were of a poorer quality than those with suspects. It was established that good practice, for example the Cognitive Interview (Fisher & Geiselman, 1992), was not used in real interviews, which seemed instead to follow the Standard Police Interview (George, 1991). Interviewers conducting real witness interviews relating to bulk crime focussed on statement taking rather than interviews. It is hypothesised that officers’ schema for statement taking is stronger than for interviewing.
Date of AwardNov 2005
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorBecky Milne (Supervisor)

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