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Let ’em Talk!: a field study of police questioning practices of suspects and accused persons

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The real-life questioning practices of Canadian police officers were examined. Specifically, 80 transcripts of police interviews with suspects and accused persons were coded for the type of questions asked, the length of interviewee response to each question, the proportion of words spoken by interviewer(s) and interviewee, and whether or not a free narrative was requested. Results showed that, on average, less than 1% of the questions asked in an interview were open-ended, and that closed yes–no and probing questions composed approximately 40% and 30% of the questions asked, respectively. The longest interviewee responses were obtained from open-ended questions, followed by multiple and probing question types. A free narrative was requested in approximately 14% of the interviews. The 80–20 talking rule was violated in every interview. The implications of these findings for reforming investigative interviewing of suspects and accused persons are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1328-1339
Number of pages12
JournalCriminal Justice and Behavior
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012
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