Investigative Interviewing – bringing together scientists and practitioners

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20 July 2011

On 24 – 27 May 2011 the Swedish National Police Academy in Stockholm hosted a CEPOL course entitled “Police interviews”. The overall aim of the course was to increase the understanding of factors that influence the reliability of information received in investigative interviews.

Twenty-five participants from nineteen Member States attended the course managed by Irena Höglund, lecturer in Behavioural Science at the Swedish National Police Academy, with support from Ireland and Poland. The event benefited from expertise provided by the United Kingdom, Poland, Australia and Sweden.

As research in the field of investigative interviewing is making important discoveries at a frequent rate, this course gave participants a chance to catch up on the latest findings. Experienced police investigators as well as academics in the fields of Forensic Psychology and linguistics were at hand amongst the experts. Course activities concentrated on presentations and group discussions, thus giving participants the opportunity to exchange knowledge and experience from their respective countries. The programme also included a visit to a Child Advocacy Centre in Stockholm, where the police and social services work together to provide a child friendly environment in which to interview children about suspected abuse.

Key speaker Annelies Vredevelt, University of York (UK), presented new findings from her doctoral research that demonstrate the beneficial effects of instructing witnesses to close their eyes during recall. Professor Pär Anders Granhag from the University of Gothenburg (SE) talked about the Strategic Use of Evidence (SUE) method which has been developed with the aim of optimising the investigative value of statements given by suspects. Key speaker Dr Lorraine Hope, University of Portsmouth (UK), gave a presentation on the Self Administered Interview (SAI), a new tool for investigative interviewing at the crime scene that has shown good results in field trials with the United Kingdom.

Many presentations dealt with concrete measures that investigators can take to increase the chance of gaining reliable information in interviews.

Among those who felt inspired to try these out in the field was Swedish participant Detective Superintendent Magnus Sallrot who commands several teams of criminal investigators in a Stockholm Police department: “I want to encourage members of my teams to instruct witnesses to close their eyes during recall, as this seems to be a very simple way to help witnesses remember more. I also see great potential in the Self Administered Interview, we definitely want to try that out in cases where we have a lot of witnesses at the crime scene. When it comes to interviewing suspects I think the Strategic Use of Evidence method would be particularly helpful at the planning stage.”

In addition to the knowledge gained during the week long course, participants will further benefit from post course activities that will let them keep in touch and exchange views and experiences via the Learning Management System within CEPOL’s e-Net.

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