• The impact of context on real-life serious crime interviews

      Leahy-Harland, Samantha; Bull, Ray; Bournemouth University; University of Derby (Routledge, 2020-11-25)
      This study examined real-life audio-taped police interviews with 56 serious crime suspects in England and Wales. It provides an analysis of how suspects responded and behaved during the interviews and considers how suspects’ responses may be affected by contextual characteristics including the presence of legal advisors. It was found that fewer suspects admitted these serious offences in comparison to previous studies, with most suspects who did admit doing so early on in the interview. The majority of suspects’ responses were identified as ‘relevant’, only a very small proportion of interviews were assessed as ‘challenging’. Significant associations between suspects’ responses and context were found. Specifically, if the (alleged) victim was female, the location of the offence was in-doors, and there was no clear motive, then suspects were more likely to say ‘no comment’ than to respond relevantly. Suspects who were 32 years of age or over, and had previous criminal convictions, were more likely to respond ‘relevantly’ than say ‘no comment’. The study also found that whilst present in the majority of interviews, the contributions of legal advisors were minimal (though more frequent legal advisor contributions were associated with increased use of police strategies).
    • Police strategies and suspect responses in real-life serious crime interviews

      Leahy-Harland, Samantha; Bull, Ray; Bournemouth University; University of Derby (Springer, 2016-09-13)
      This research focuses exclusively on real-life taped interviews with serious crime suspects and examines the strategies used and types of questions asked by police, and suspects’ responses to these. The information source was audio-tape-recorded interviews with 56 suspects. These recordings were obtained from 11 police services across England and Wales and were analysed using a specially designed coding frame. It was found that interviewers employed a range of strategies with presentation of evidence and challenge the most frequently observed. Closed questions were by far the most frequently used, and open questions, although less frequent, were found to occur more during the opening phases of the interviews. The frequency of ineffective question types (e.g. negative, repetitive, multiple) was low. A number of significant associations were observed between interviewer strategies and suspect responses. Rapport/empathy and open-type questions were associated with an increased likelihood of suspects admitting the offence whilst describing trauma, and negative questions were associated with a decreased likelihood.