Police Interviews – bringing together scientists and practitioners
The Swedish National Police Academy in Stockholm, Sweden hosted CEPOL course 2012/15 ”Police interviews” on 11-14 September 2012. The overall aim of the course was to increase understanding of factors that influence the reliability of information received in investigative interviews.
The course, organised by Sweden, also benefited from supportby the United Kingdom and the EU Agency Frontex. Irena Höglund, lecturer in Behavioural Science at the Swedish National Police Academy was the course manager. Twenty eight participants from 14 Member States plus Iceland attended the event. Experts from the United Kingdom, South Africa and Sweden added their expertise.
There is a lot of research going on within the field of investigative interviewing and this CEPOL course gave participants an update on the most recent developments. Experts included experienced police investigators as well as academics from the fields of Forensic Psychology. The course material content centred on presentations and group discussions. This gave participants the opportunity to exchange knowledge and experience, pertaining to investigative interviewing from their respective countries. The programme included a visit to a Child Advocacy Centre in Stockholm, where the police provide a child friendly environment when interviewing children about suspected abuse. Mr Emanuel Said, Frontex, gave a presentation on how the PEACE-model is used in voluntary interviews with migrants, at borders and detention centres where Frontex has joint operations.
Most presentations dealt with concrete measures that investigators can take to increase the chance of gaining reliable information in interviews. Amongst the key speakers was Dr Coral Dando from the University of Lancaster. She presented recent developments to the enhanced cognitive interview that may increase the usability of the method for police officers on patrol. Dr Dando also gave a presentation on her recent research into the most effective way of presenting evidence during a suspect interview. A structured, gradual disclosure of evidence has been shown to increase interviewer’s ability to assess the veracity of the suspect’s statement. The same research has also demonstrated that interviewers who focus on non-verbal cues to deception are less likely to make a correct veracity judgement. Another key speaker was Dr Lorraine Hope from the University of Portsmouth, who gave a presentation on an interview technique that is still under development. The purpose of the time line technique is to facilitate the interviewee’s ability to recall the chronology of actions in cases with multiple perpetrators. Dr Hope also spoke about the Self Administered Interview (SAI), a new tool for investigative interviewing at the crime scene that has shown good results in field trials in the UK.
Participant Gareth McAlister, Detective Constable and Instructor in Crime Training at PSNI College in Northern Ireland, was pleased with the CEPOL-course and appreciated Dr. Hope’s presentation on the Self Administered Interview.
– It has been a hugely enjoyable week. With the SAI-method, we can more easily and quickly identify relevant witnesses. We can concentrate on witnesses that we give priority, and thereby receive more information earlier on in the investigation process. That is useful in times of increasing pressure on resources.
– The learning process definitely continues outside the seminars, and it is a great opportunity to see how new findings and methods are applied practically. Even though I have a substantial amount of background knowledge, it is always worthwhile to see it from a new perspective: we have a lot to learn from each other regarding interviews with witnesses and suspects. It does not matter where in Europe you are from – we all share the same challenges in our work.
Criminal Psychologist Agnes Csernyik-Pòth is eager to spread the new research findings regarding police interviews to the Police College in Budapest.
– The CEPOL course is a very interesting forum to catch up on new research. The networking together with European colleagues is valuable to share problems, ideas and solutions, and to get to know each other better. The SAI method was very meaningful to know more about - I intend to inform my colleagues, students and police officers in training about it.
In addition to the knowledge gained during the course week, participants will further benefit from post course activities, letting them keep in touch and exchange views and experiences using the Learning Management System on CEPOL’s web-platform, e-Net.
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