An examination into the efficacy of police advanced investigative interview training?

  • Andrew Griffiths

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The history of investigative interviewing in England and Wales has two distinct
eras: one before and one after 1992. The era before 1992 was characterised by
a lack of training and an over reliance on confessions from suspects, which led
to the condemnation of police tactics by the Court of Appeal in high profile
cases. Wider psychological research also revealed a general lack of
interviewing ability amongst police officers with both suspects and witnesses at
this time. This resulted in the introduction of the PEACE interview programme
by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) in 1992. This was a oneweek national training course for all officers that covered both suspect and
witness interviewing. By 2002 the ‘one size fits all’ approach of the original
PEACE model had evolved into a tiered approach for officers dependent on
their type of work. This approach included advanced interviewing for certain
detectives involved in interviewing suspects and witnesses in major crime
cases. The research in this thesis provides the first evaluation of the
effectiveness of advanced interviewing through a series of empirical studies
that followed a cadre of advanced interviewers through both training and real
life interviews. The first study evaluated the training effect of an advanced
suspect interview course by examining simulated interviews with suspects
conducted before and after training. The second study assessed skills
transference from training by examining post-training real life major crime
suspect interviews. A third study, longitudinal in nature, then examined real life
major crime witness interviews, for which the advanced interviewers had
received further training. The fourth study was a qualitative study that focused
on the questioning strategies used by the advanced interviewers, while the fifth
and final study reported a thematic analysis of the patterns of question usage
across different types of investigative interview conducted by interviewers with
different levels of training using the Griffiths Question Map (GQM).
The results of study 1 demonstrated that before the advanced training course
the advanced interviewers were more skilled than other police interviewers. In
particular they had good questioning and listening skills. Their weakest areas
were rapport building and summarising. After interview training the advanced
interviewers improved across all the areas of the interviews and clusters of
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behaviours analysed showing a strong positive training effect. The results of
study 2 were varied. Initially the improvements in skill noted after training did
transfer to real life successfully, although rapport building was notably weaker
than the other behaviours examined. In addition, over time all behaviours then
showed tangible skill erosion with the exception of legal behaviours, topic
structure, questioning and listening. Study 3 revealed that the witness
interviews conducted by the advanced interviewers were less skilfully executed
than the suspect interviews. The advanced interviewers failed to use the
enhanced cognitive interview effectively, preferring a conversation
management approach which suggested an ‘overshadowing’ effect from the
primary suspect interview training. The deeper examination of questioning
strategies used by the advanced interviewers conducted in study 4
demonstrated that this approach to witness interviews was deliberate and
reflected a preference for a probing question style regardless of interview
situation. The final study identified the patterns of questions that were evident in
different types of investigative interviews conducted by interviewers with
different levels of training. Using a specially designed tool called the Griffiths
Question Map (GQM) the results of study 5 are presented as visual
representations of the different patterns of questions that were visible in
investigative interviews conducted by interviewers with different levels of skill.
The GQM introduces a new and unique method of analysing question use
across all types of investigative interview. The final chapter is a discussion of
the main findings and includes recommendations for future research.
Overall the research studies indicate that advanced interview training does
improve the interview ability of police officers. The studies also indicate,
however, that further research is required into interview training design, the
effect of time on skill and assumptions of competence for the same interviewers
across witness and suspect disciplines.
Advanced interviewing is a new concept, but one that is essential to the
evolution of major crime investigation. This in depth evaluation of an advanced
interview training programme makes a significant contribution to both overall
knowledge of investigative interviewing and the effectiveness of modern day
interview training.
Date of AwardOct 2007
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorBecky Milne (Supervisor)

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