Bring Peace To An Otherwise Erratic Interrogation Method Criminology Essay

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The Reid method (Inbau, Reid and Buckley and Jayne, 2001) is the most influential interrogation method used across the United States of America (Gudjonsson, 1992). It proposes 9 steps for after a pre-interrogation interview to enable effective interrogation to result in confession; Step 1 - Direct Confrontation. Step 2 - Theme building; either minimising their crime or maximising it and exaggerating evidence. Step 3 - Handling denials. Step 4 - Overcoming objections. Step 5 - Retention of suspect's attention. Step 6 - Handle suspect's passive mood. Step 7 - Pose the alternative question; giving two choices for what happened. Step 8 - Lead the suspect to repeat the admission of guilt. Step 9 - Document the suspect's admission and prepare a written statement (Zulawski and Wicklander, 2001). Though confessions are attained from using this method, it is unclear how many plausible confessions are gained as it is not supported by any empirical evidence (Gudjonsson, 1992).

The suspect is also given a pre-interrogation interview wherein the police officer interviews the suspect in a neutral, information gathering way (Kassin and Gudjonsson, 2004) in order to determine whether they think they are innocent or guilty. Inbau et al (2001) highlight the need to looks for behavioural symptoms that may indicate whether they are telling the truth or lying. This includes looking at how long the interviewee takes to respond to a question, their attitude and general demeanour. Inbau et al, (2001) claim that this can provide interviewers with 85% accuracy level of judging truth and deception. However there are several case studies that dispute this claim and show that the pre-interrogation interview does not always work. 14-year-old Michael Crowe and his friend Joshua Treadway were pressurised into confessing to the stabbing of Michael's sister after a gruelling interrogation which lasted hours. The charges against the boys were dropped when the victim's blood was found on a drifter who had been in the area. It was suggested that the boys had been pressurised into confessing because the officer who had conducted the pre-interrogation interview believed that Crowe behaved with little emotion towards his sister's death (Johnson, 2003.) Simon (1991) states that certain emotional and behavioural changes occur when one is deceptive, however they also occur when one is in a high level of stress and therefore in the eyes of an officer who is looking for these cues it may prove to be unreliable to depend upon them. This research as well as others highlights that the pre-interrogation interview does not always work as human error can result in innocent victims being punished by law.

It also focuses heavily on persuasion, which causes further implications as deception strategies such as presenting false evidence (Kassin, Appleby and Perillo, 2010) may be incorporated in order for the suspect to admit to their crimes (Leo 1994). This type of deception could lead innocent people to admit to crimes they have not committed; Kassin and Kiechel (1996) demonstrated this in a laboratory experiment with college students. Although all students were innocent, they were accused of pressing a key on the computer which caused it to crash. In some instances a confederate stated they had seen the participants press the key. Despite being innocent the students signed the written confession and the researchers reported that the presence of false evidence had nearly doubled the number of students who signed; from 48% to 94% (Kassin and Kiechel (1996). This experiment has been recreated in an analogous context and found similar results (Swanner, Beike, & Cole, 2010).

In the 1st edition of the Reid method Inbau, Reid and Buckley, (1986) stated that interrogators should not make a "big issue" of relaying the suspect's Miranda rights of having the right to remain silent, or being entitled to an attorney and that it should be done quickly. Zimbardo (1967) states this could result in false confessions being admitted as the suspect's dignity and rights are being taken away. This was seen to be apparent in the case of Peter Reilly who confessed to the murder of his mother. Reilly was imprisoned based solely on his confession, though evidence found later cleared him of this offence. Reilly stated that he did not use his Miranda rights as he was innocent and did not believe he needed an attorney (Connery, 1996). The Innocence project ( in the United States has shown that false confessions contributed to 20% of cases, however Drizin & Leo (2004) state this is merely the tip of the iceberg as many cases may not have been reassessed in regards to DNA evidence.

The technique used throughout interrogation is minimisation and maximisation; either down-playing the consequences of the crime and pretending to be sympathetic or frightening the suspect into a confession (Gudjonsson, 1992). Suspects are continuously manipulated into confessing and public knowledge of this may question the professionalism of police officers (Gudjonsson, 1992). It has been reported that the Reid method results in too many false confessions being produced (Kassin, Appleby and Perillo, 2010), thus the proposal for a new method is put forth as well as recommendations based upon research found by psychologists.

The British interview method was formed through a collaboration of psychologists, lawyers and police officers (Williamson 1994) and is now a compulsory part of training for all police officers to undertake (Williamson, 2006). It considered some of the points Baldwin (1992) proposed following his evaluation of police interviewing suspects; whereby he stated that emphasis should be on preparation, rapport building and planning. It was an expansion of the original PACE method (Williamson, 1994) and introduced in 1992 to the Home office circular 22/1992, amended and then reintroduced in the Home office circular 7/1993. This provided a structure whereby it could direct interviewers away from unethical interviewing (Williamson, 1994) and towards a more knowledgeable communicative manner and skills. It was provided with two handbooks on interviewing techniques; 'The Interviewer's Rule Book' (CPTU, 1992a) and 'A Guide to Interviewing' (CPTU, 1992b) and included a week of training (Williamson, 1993, 1994). This method (PEACE) unlike the Reid method (Inbau, Reid and Buckley and Jayne, 2001) has five parts to it; preparation and planning, this is to ensure interviewers are fully prepared with their aims for the interview. Engage and explain; here interviewers are expected to explain what is going on to the interviewee whilst building rapport and conversation. Account; interviewers are to engage in a more thorough conversation with the interviewee to gain insight into what happened. Closure; interviewers should conclude interview appropriately with a summary, and finally evaluate; when the interview is complete the interviewer should assess all information thoroughly (Newburn, Williamson and Wright, 2007).

The PEACE method has been evaluated by a number of studies; McGurk, Carr and McGurk, (1993) found that the training from the PEACE method did improve the interviewer's knowledge and skills in interviewing, this was also apparent after a six month follow-up. Bull and Cherryman (1995) found that police interviewing skills were better after the introduction of the PEACE method, thus displaying the importance of training. However in a national evaluation Clarke and Milne (2001) found that although the method was valuable to interviewers, it was poorly applied or unused. They reported that interviews were frequently unsupervised and although it had reduced unethical interviewing it had not fully increased interviewers skills, this was similar to the findings of Milne and Griffiths (2005). Clarke and Milne (2001) found that training alone does not enhance the interviewers planning and basic communication skills. Taking this and other legislative changes into account the PEACE method implemented five tiers in 2002; to provide further training for officers (Williamson, 2006). Tier 1; training of new recruits. Tier 2; further training for officers in volume crime. Tier 3; Specialist training for officers relating to serious crimes including interviewing suspects, vulnerable and or intimidated witnesses. Officers have to apply for this and be assessed. Tier 4; senior officers trained on supervising the interview process. Tier 5; availability of interview coordinators who can provide advice and an overview of everything (Newburn, Williamson and Wright, 2007).

The implementation of tier 3 and the specialist training enables interviewers to improve their overall interviewing technique, though Griffiths and Milne (2006) state refresher courses may be needed in order to maintain a high standard of it thus highlighting how crucial on-going training is. St-Yves (2006) suggests communication skills and building rapport are crucial to progressing within an interview. He puts forth five steps that are essential for successful interviewing, these include 1)keeping an open mind and remaining objective; 2)building up a rapport; 3) paying attention; 4) keeping a professional attitude; 5) knowing how to conclude (St-Yves (2006). The steps St-Yves (2006) proposes are similar to the PEACE approach and allows the interviewer to actively listen and be open-minded as opposed to trying to force a confession. Fisher and Geiselman (1992) have shown that interviewees are more likely to dispatch information if they feel at ease with the interviewer and know that the information they provide will be accepted and not be judged (Powell, Fisher and Wright 2005).

In more recent cases the PEACE method has been used to interview not only police suspects but in Walsh and Milne's (2008) study; benefit fraud interviews and have had successful outcomes. Walsh and Milne's (2008) FIS interviewing study showed that investigators that had been trained outshone investigators who had not received any training. This shows that the PEACE method can be used in a range of settings and with a variety of people; it is versatile. In a different study Soukara, Bull, Vrij, Turner and Cherryman (2009) coded 80 audio-taped interviews and found that the most used tactics included: using open questions, disclosure of evidence, repetitive questioning and leading questions. This resulted in 30 out of 80 suspects confessing. The researchers stated that none of the interviews were supervised and some basic principles of the PEACE act were not adhered to for example rapport building. They also stress the need for further training for the officers (Soukara, Bull, Vrij, Turner and Cherryman (2009). Although there is some research indicating that certain aspects of the PEACE approach isn't always adhered to, it is recommended as the foundation of investigative interviewing, with the following suggestions.