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Police detectives' aims regarding their interviews with suspects: any change at the turn of the millenium?

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A questionnaire was devised that included questions regarding what tactics police detectives in England believe they use when interviewing uncooperative suspects and officers’ views on the role of confession. The questionnaire included both closed and open-ended questions, and it was answered by police detectives with extensive first-hand experience of the investigative interviewing of suspects. The detectives’ answers on the questions were rated on a scale one to five, where one meant “not at all important” and five meant “very important.” Findings showed that specialized training in the investigative interviewing of suspects was believed by experienced detectives to be equally important as experience. In addition to specialized training, preparation of the interview was considered to be most important in the investigative interviewing of suspects, followed by the social skills of the interviewer. Planning the interview was crucial as it affected the quality and very often the outcome of an interview. The available evidence in a case determines the style of the interview and the interviewer’s approach towards the suspect. The disclosure of evidence was the tactic the detectives said they used in each and every interview with suspects, and the only variation was the actual time at which the evidence was disclosed, as it differed for each case. The nature of the crime and the individual characteristics of a suspect were reported to influence greatly the choice of tactics used during investigative interviewing. The social skills of the interviewer were always put to the test when dealing with child sexual abuse cases. The extent to which the interviewer could sympathize with the suspect and show understanding often seemed to decide whether the suspect admitted to the offense. The search for the truth, rather than the search for a confession, was seen as the aim of an investigative interview by the majority of the police detectives who took part in this study.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-104
Number of pages4
JournalInternational Journal of Police Science & Management
Volume4
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2002

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