Barry Cooper never get busted
Psychology of interrogation
Interrogation Tactics and
1)Police officers concealing their identity while trying to obtain a confession(e.g. pretending to be a fellow prison inmate, befriending a person under false pretences, posing as a criminal). Such undercover operations are practised in some countries, for example, in Canada, the USA, and Britain. In contrast, such undercover operations are commonly used in Canada to coerce confessions out of resistant suspects and they are allowed in evidence because they fall outside the legal framework of custodial interrogation
2) During interrogation the police may misrepresent the nature or seriousness of the offence (e.g. in a murder case by lying to the suspect that the victim is still alive and may talk, or implying that the death must have been an accident or unpremeditated).
3) Employing trickery is the most common police
deception during interrogation. This typically involves presenting the suspect with false evidence of guilt (e.g. falsely claiming that a co-defendant has confessed, exaggerating the strength of evidence against the suspect, falsely claiming that the police are in possession of forensic or eyewitness evidence that indicates the suspect’s guilt or lying about the results from a polygraph test).
Do not make a big issue of advising the suspect of his rights. Do it quickly, do it briefly, and do not repeat it.
Many criminal investigations can only be solved by obtaining a confession.
_ Unless offenders are caught in the commission of a crime they will ordinarily not give a confession unless they are interrogated over an extended period of time in private, using persuasive techniques comprised of trickery,deceit and psychological manipulation.
_ To break down resistance interrogators will need to employ techniques which would in the eyes of the public normally be seen as unethical:
_ Breaking down denials and resistance.
_ Increasing the suspect’s desire to confess.
Showing suspect a folder with some papers and telling him that all he sees is evidence about him and his file. They just play you to make you confess.
-if under surveillance you take the package(drugs delivery) and you’re guilty.
-to check if someone is telling the truth.Ask a question to which you know answer to.
-detective says suspect A says all what happend when you got busted – it’s a trick,they don’t have enough info
Step 1: ‘Direct Positive Confrontation’
This consists of the suspect being told with ‘absolute certainty’ that he or she committed the alleged offence. The interrogator states confidently that the results of extensive enquiries by the police indicate that the suspect committed the
offence. Even if the interrogator has no tangible evidence against the suspect he or she should not give any indication of this to the suspect and if necessary must pretend that there is evidence. After the initial confrontation there is a brief pause, during which the suspect’s behavioural reactions are closely observed. The interrogatorthen proceeds to convince the suspect of the benefit of telling the truth (i.e. the truth as seen by the interrogator), without an obvious promise of leniency, which would invalidate any subsequent confession. This may focus on pointing out the suspect’s ‘redeeming qualities’ to get him to explain his side
of the story, explaining that it is all a matter of understanding his character and the circumstances that led to the commission of the offence and pointing out the need to establish the extent of his criminal activity (i.e. the extent of his criminal activity is exaggerated to elicit a reaction from the suspect).
Step 2: ‘Theme Development’
Here it is important that the interrogator displays an understanding and sympathetic attitude in order to gain the suspect’s trust. The interrogator suggests
various ‘themes’ to the suspect, which are aimed to either minimize the moral implications of the alleged crime or give the suspect the opportunity of accepting ‘moral excuses’ for the commission of the crime (i.e. they are face-saving (excuses).
Themes for emotional suspects. It is recommended that the type of theme utilized by interrogators should take into account the personality of the suspect.
The following themes are recommended for the emotional type of suspects.
-Tell the suspect that anyone else being faced with the same situation or circumstance might have committed the same type of offence. This has the of normalizing the criminal behaviour of the suspect and, combined with the comfort from the interrogator’s apparent sympathy with the suspect,makes it easier for the latter to confess.
-Attempt to reduce the suspect’s feelings of guilt for the offence by minimizing its moral seriousness. This can be achieved, for example, by the interrogator commenting that many other people have committed more shameful acts than that done by the suspect.
-Suggest to the suspect a morally acceptable reason for the offence. This includes such ploys as telling the suspect that he probably only committed the offence because he was intoxicated or on drugs at the time. Another ploy, in certain types of offence, is to suggest that the suspect never really meant to do any harm, or attributing the offence to some kind of an accident. The purpose is to ‘ease’ the suspect into some kind of a selfincriminating admission, no matter how small, which makes him more amenable to making a full and detailed confession at a later stage of the interrogation. Being able to provide the suspect with some face-saving explanations for the crime greatly increases the likelihood of a confession being forthcoming.
-Condemnation of others as a way of sympathizing with the suspect. The rationale for this theme is that it will make it much easier for the suspect to confess if some responsibility for the offence can be attributed to the victim, an accomplice, or somebody else. The interrogator can use this ploy
to his advantage by exploiting the readiness of many suspects to attribute partial blame for what they have done to others.
-Using praise and flattery as a way of manipulating the suspect. The argument here is that most people enjoy the approval of others and the appropriate use of praise and flattery facilitates rapport between the suspect and the interrogator. This ploy is considered particularly effective with people
who are uneducated and dependent upon the approval of others.
-Point out that perhaps the suspect’s involvement in the crime has been exaggerated. The emphasis here is that the interrogator makes the suspect believe that perhaps the victim has exaggerated his involvement in the offence. Pointing out the possibility of exaggeration may make some
offenders more willing to make partial admission, which can subsequently be built upon
-Make the suspect believe that it is not in his interest to continue with criminal
activities. This theme is considered particularly effective with first time
offenders and juveniles. It is pointed out to them that it is in their own
interest to own up to what they have done in order to prevent serious trouble
later in life. In other words, the suspect is told that by confessing he can
learn from his mistakes and escape more serious difficulties.
Themes for non-emotional suspects. Inbau et al. suggest the following themes
for non-emotional suspects.
-Try to catch the suspect telling some incidental lie. Once a suspect has been
caught telling a lie regarding the case under investigation, no matter how
small the lie is, he will be at a psychological disadvantage; in fact, from
then onwards he has to make serious attempts to convince the interrogator
that everything he is saying is now the truth.
-Try to get the suspect to somehow associate himself with the crime. This
ploy may form part of some other theme, but it can be used as an effective
theme in its own right. This consists of, for example, trying to get the
suspect to agree to having been at or near scene of the crime, or somehow
having incidental links with the crime.
-Suggest there was a non-criminal intent behind the act. Here the interrogator
points out to the suspect that the criminal act may have been accidental
or committed in self-defence rather than intentional. The idea is to persuade
the suspect to accept the physical part of the offence while minimizing the
-Try to convince the suspect that there is no point in denying his involvement.
Here the interrogator points out to the suspect that all the evidence points
to his guilt and that it is futile to attempt to resist telling the truth. The
effectiveness of this theme depends upon the ability of the interrogator to
persuade the suspect that there is sufficient evidence to convict him, regardless
of any forthcoming confession. The suspect is told that the interrogator is only concerned
about the suspect being able to tell his side of the story,
in case there were any mitigating circumstances.
-Play one co-offender against the other. When there is more than one person
suspected of having committed the offence, then each one will be very concerned
about the possibility that the other(s) will confess in an attempt to
obtain special consideration when the case goes to court. This fear of mutual
distrust can be used to ‘play one against the other’. The main ploy is to
inform one, usually the assumed leader, that his co-offender has confessed
and that there is no point in his continuing to deny his involvement in the
commission of the offence. This can be an effective technique with certain
offenders However, this kind of tactic has its dangers. For example,
in one British case a police officer produced
a bogus confession and presented it to a co-defendant, who subsequently
confessed and implicated others in one of the worse miscarriages of justice
in British history.
Step 3: ‘Handling Denials’
It is recognized that most offenders are reluctant to give a confession, even after
direct confrontation, and their denials need to be handled with great care and
Repeated denials by the suspect are seen as being very undesirable because they
give the suspect a psychological advantage. Therefore, they must be stopped by
the interrogator. This means that the interrogator does not allow the suspect
to persist with the denials. The suspect’s attempts at denial are persistently
interrupted by the interrogator, who keeps telling the suspect to listen to what
he has got to say
Inbau et al. argue that there are noticeable qualitative differences between
the denials of innocent and guilty suspects, and these can be detected from various
verbal and non-verbal signs. For example, innocent suspects’ denials are
said to be spontaneous, forceful, and direct, whereas the denials of guilty suspects
are more defensive, qualified, and hesitant. Similarly, innocent suspects
more commonly look the interrogator in the eye, and lean forward in the chair
in a rather rigid and an assertive posture.
the use of the ‘friendly-unfriendly’ technique
(when the various attempts at sympathy and understanding have failed). The
‘friendly-unfriendly’ technique, also known as the ‘Mutt and Jeff’ technique
This commonly involves two interrogators working together, one of whom is friendly and sympathetic
and the other being unfriendly and critical. A variant of this technique
is for the same interrogator to play both roles, at different times during the interrogation.
In the end makes the suspect more responsive to the sympathetic approach.
This technique is said to be particularly effective with the quiet and
Step 4: ‘Overcoming Objections’
This consists of the interrogator overcoming various objections that the suspect
may give as an explanation or reasoning for his innocence. Innocent suspects are
said to more commonly continue with plain denials, whereas the guilty suspect
will move from plain denials to objections. There are variousways of overcoming
these objections, which are said to be an attempt, particularly by guilty suspects,
to gain control over the conversation as their denials begin to weaken. Once
the suspect feels that the objections are not getting him anywhere he becomes
quiet and begins to show signs of withdrawal from active participation in the
interrogation. He is now at his lowest point and the interrogator needs to act
quickly in order not to lose the psychological advantage he has gained
It is evident from the above quote that the authors have great faith in the ability
of interrogators to detect deception by the use of non-verbal signs:
Step 5: ‘Procurement and Retention of Suspect’s Attention’
Once the interrogator notices the suspect’s passive signs of withdrawal, he tries
to reduce the psychological distance between himself and the suspect and to regain
the suspect’s full attention. He achieves this, Inbau et al. argue, by moving
physically closer to the suspect, leaning forward towards the suspect, touching
the suspect gently, mentioning the suspect’s first name, and maintaining good
eye contact with the suspect. The suspect will look defeated and depressed. As a
result of this ploy, a guilty suspect becomes more attentive to the interrogator’s
Step 6: ‘Handling Suspect’s Passive Mood’
This is a direct continuation of Step 5. As the suspect appears attentive to the
interrogator and displays indications that he is about to give up, the interrogator
should focus the suspect’s mind on a specific and central theme concerning
the reason for the offence. The interrogator exhibits signs of understanding and
sympathy and urges the suspect to tell the truth. Attempts are then made to
place the suspect in a more remorseful mood by having him become aware of the
stress he is placing upon the victim by not confessing. The interrogator appeals
to the suspect’s sense of decency and honour, and religion if appropriate.
The main emphasis seems to be to play upon the suspect’s potential weaknesses
in order to break down his remaining resistance. Some suspects cry
at this stage and this is reinforced and used to the interrogator’s advantage:
‘Crying is an emotional outlet that releases tension. It is also good indication
that the suspect has given up and is ready to confess’
Step 7: ‘Presenting an Alternative Question’
Here the suspect is presented with two possible alternatives for the commission
of the crime. Both alternatives are highly incriminating, but they are worded
in such a way that one alternative acts as a face-saving device whilst the other
implies some repulsive or callous motivation. It represents the culmination of
theme development and in addition to a face-saving function, it provides an incentive
to confess (i.e. if the suspect does not accept the lesser alternative others
may believe the worst case scenario).
In other words, the suspect is given the opportunity to provide an explanation or
an excuse for the crime, which makes self-incriminating admission much easier
to achieve. The timing of presentation of the alternative question is critical. If
presented at the right time it will catch the suspect by surprise and make him
more likely to confess.
Inbau et al. point out that occasionally suspects will persist with their facesaving
excuses, but the interrogator will usually have no problem in obtaining
a more incriminating explanation for the crime by pointing out flaws in the
Step 8: ‘Having Suspect Orally Relate Various Details of Offense’
This relates to the suspect having accepted one of the alternatives given to him
in Step 7 and consequently providing a first self-incriminating admission. In
Step 8 the initial admission is developed into a full blown confession which
provides details of the circumstances, motive and nature of the criminal act.
(1) emphasize that it is important at this point in the interview
that the interrogator is alone with the suspect, because the presence
of another person may discourage the suspect from talking openly about the
Once a full confession has been obtained the interrogator asks somebody
to witness the confession. This is done in case the suspect refuses to sign
a written statement.
Step 9: Converting an Oral Confession into a Written Confession
This is very important because a signed confession is much stronger legally than
an oral one. Furthermore, as a large number of suspects subsequently retract
or withdraw their self-incriminating confession it is considered advisable to
convert the oral confession into a written statement as soon as practicable.
Suspects can easily deny that they ever made an oral confession, whereas it
is much more difficult to challenge a written confession that has the suspect’s
signature on it. The authorswarn that delaying taking a written statement may
result in the confessor having been able to reflect upon the legal consequences
of the confession and retracting it.
The former strategy,
which Inbau et al. recommend for non-emotional suspects, involves the interrogator
frightening the suspect into a confession by exaggerating the strength
of evidence against him or her and the seriousness of the offence. The ‘minimization’
strategy, by contrast, is recommended for remorseful suspects. Here
the interrogator tricks the suspect into a false sense of security and confession
by offering sympathy, providing face-saving excuses, partly blaming the victim
or circumstances for the alleged offence, and minimizing the seriousness of the
THE FORMAT AND RECORDING OF THE CONFESSION
First, the interrogator can obtain a narrative account from the
suspect, which gives all the necessary details of the offence itself and its circumstances.
Second, a written confession can be prepared in the form of ‘questions
and answers’; that is, the interrogator asks the specific questions and the suspect
provides his answers to the questions asked. Probably the best approach is
to combine the two formats as appropriate according to the nature of the case
and the ability of the suspect to give a detailed narrative account. Inbau and
colleagues point out that the main legal advantage of a question-and-answer
format is that parts of the statement can more easily be deleted if considered
inadmissible by the trial judge.
Autors argue strongly against the use of tape
and video-recording of interrogation, maintaining that it results in a number
of practical problems and would dramatically reduce the number of confessions.
There is no doubt that tape-recording, or video-recording, of police interviews
protects the police against false allegations as well as protecting the suspect
against police impropriety. The danger here is that the recording will not give the whole picture
of the interrogation process and may seriously mislead the court.
Another potential problem with electronic recording is that if police officers
are no longer able to place suspects under pressure during tape-recorded interviews
they may shift the pressure outside the formal interview.
Video-taping of interrogations is now commonly used in serious cases in
America with many positive results .Geller found that law enforcement
agencies were generally positive about the use of video-taping and
found that it helped to prove the voluntariness of the confession at trial, it had
led to improvements in interrogation techniques and it was helpful to use the
tapes for training purposes.
Polygraph not admissible by Canadian courts ,layer voice anlalyzer measure strees in voice.
Polygraphs are not reliable. Don’t take the polygraph test.
THE CONTEXT OF THE INTERROGATION
The context in which the interrogation takes place and the conditions of detention
can vary immensely. In some cases suspects are detained in custody, even
incommunicado, for days( in USA terror camp ). They may be physically exhausted, emotionally distraught
and mentally confused when interrogated.
The police are obliged to follow certain stringent guidelines
and procedures with regard to detention and interrogation. These are
intended as important safeguards against police impropriety, false confessions
and wrongful convictions. This includes restricting the length of time during
which suspects can be detained without being formally charged and, while in
custody, giving suspects sufficient rest between interviews. The physical and
mental welfare of suspects is the responsibility of the duty.
Interrogator is part of a system that gives him or her certain powers and controls (e.g. powers of arrest
and detention, the power to charge the suspect, the power to ask questions
and control over the suspect’s freedom of movement and access to the outside
world). Therefore, it is inevitable that there are certain ‘coercive’ aspects to any
police interrogation. Not only is the inevitable ‘coerciveness’ associated with
the nature and circumstances of the interrogation and confinement, but the
characteristics of the detainee affect the extent to which his free will is likely
to be overborne.
Anxiety and Fear During Interrogation
signs of nervousness may be evident during
interrogation among both innocent and guilty subjects. They list three reasons
why innocent suspects may be nervous when interrogated:
1. they may be worried that they are erroneously assumed to be guilty;
2. theymay be worried about what is going to happen to them whilst in custody
and during interrogation;
3. they may be concerned that the police may discover some previous transgressions.
Innocent and guilty suspects both experience
and exhibit signs of anxiety when interrogated, but the latter will experience
a greater degree of anxiety, because they have committed an offence and really
have something to worry about. This seems a reasonable assumption, because
the lying of a guilty suspect is likely to generate its own anxiety. However, there
is no doubt that for innocent suspects being wrongly accused of a crime, subjected
to repeated challenges and not being believed can create severe anxiety
of its own, which can be misconstrued as indications of deception.
stressors that are
relevant to police interrogation situations:
1. stress caused by the physical environment at the police station;
2. stress caused by confinement and isolation from peers;
3. stress caused by the suspect’s submission to authority.
Each of these classes of stressors can cause sufficient anxiety, fear and physiological
arousal in the suspect to markedly impair his performance during
The physical characteristics of the interrogation environment may cause
anxiety and fear in some suspects. This is particularly true if the suspect has
never been in a police station before so that the environment is unfamiliar to
him. The more often a suspect has been in a police station on previous occasions,
the greater the opportunity he has had for learning the rules of conduct of the
setting.A familiar policeenvironment is likely to be less stress-provoking than an unfamiliar one.
Further types of stressor associated with the physical environment at the
police station are uncertainty and lack of control over the environment. Suspects
have little or no control over what is happening. If arrested, they cannot leave
the police station until they are told that they are free to go. They cannot move
freely within the police station, they are not free to obtain refreshments, make telephone calls, receive visits or use toilet facilities without permission. They have limited opportunity for privacy, and indeed, interrogatorsmay cause stress by positioning themselves very close to the suspect during the interrogation.
Such invasion of the suspect’s personal space can cause agitation and increased
physiological arousal. suspects in interrogation,
are prone to obey instructions which they would ordinarily dismiss. Under
certain conditions, the subject will, against his principles, inflict pain. Likewise,
we would argue under similar conditions of obedience to authority, suspects will
provide information or even confess, even though normally they would not do so
because of the obvious negative consequences
inevitable subordination of suspects
to police officers’ authority, when detained at a police station, can cause
considerable stress for the suspect.= important
parallel between experimental findings of obedience to authority.
Often the pressure consisted of little more than reiteration by a detective of the
same question several times alternated with small talk and appropriate urging.
Most suspects who confess, however, do not appear to see through the con.
Anger During Interrogation
People who were angry or suspicious when tested were less susceptible to giving
in to leading questions and interrogative pressure. An expression of anger among suspects during interrogation is often difficult to interpret, but an important difference is assumed to exist between guilty
and innocent subjects.
Innocent suspects may be genuinely angry, and on occasions outraged, about being
accused or suspected of a crime of which they are innocent. However, guilty suspects may
on occasions pretend to be angry and their feigned anger may be difficult to
differentiate from the genuine anger of innocent suspects.
Innocent suspects are assumed to persist with their
anger over time, whereas guilty suspects will find it difficult to maintain the
emotion over long periods of time.
The feigned anger among guilty suspects will subside more quickly than the
genuine anger among innocent suspects. I am not aware of any published scientific
study which provides empirical support for such differentiation between
innocent and guilty suspects in their anger responses.
The reason is that, like anger
and suspiciousness, it reduces the suspect’s cooperation with the interrogation
and makes him less receptive to the suggestions offered by the interrogator.
Desirable Attributes of the Interrogator
An understanding of the psychological principles and theories of interrogation and confessions
is considered very important. In particular, a good understanding and insight
into signs of deception, including non-verbal cues, is considered essential. This
is because the effectiveness of interrogation tactics and techniques is largely
based on the ability of the interrogator to detect defensiveness, evasiveness and
various forms of deception, and turn these to their advantage in breaking down
The Physical Environment of the Interrogation
There are a number of physical features associated with the police interrogation
and confinement environment that can have major effects on the way suspects
react to police interrogation.
Physical environment can be deliberately arranged to maximize the likelihood
that the suspect will confess. These include isolating the suspect from
outside influences, making sure that there are no objects in the interrogation
room that can distract the suspect’s attention, sitting close to the suspect, and
having colleagues surreptitiously observing the interview behind a one-way
mirror for suspects’ signs of vulnerabilities.
The relevant processes that brought about these reactions
were described by the authors as:
1. ‘loss of personal identity’ (i.e. loss of recognition of one’s individuality and
2. ‘arbitrary control’ (i.e. the arbitrary and often unpredictable exercise of
power and control by the ‘guards’);
3. ‘dependency and emasculation’ (i.e. being dependent on the ‘guards’ for
exercising basic human activities).
Social isolation, sensory deprivation, fatigue, hunger, the lack of sleep, physical
and emotional pain, and threats are all factors that can powerfully influence the
decision-making of suspects and the reliability of their statements.
Most people who are exposed to coercive procedures will talk and usually reveal
some information that they might not have revealed otherwise.
The 12 most commonly
used tactics, and the percentage of cases where it was used for each
tactic, were as follows.
1. Appeal to the suspect’s self-interest (88%).
2. Confront suspect with existing evidence of guilt (85%).
3. Undermine suspect’s confidence in denial of guilt (43%).
4. Identify contradictions in suspect’s story (42%).
5. Any Behavioural Analysis Interview question (40%).
6. Appeal to the importance of cooperation (37%).
7. Offer moral justifications/psychological excuses (34%).
8. Confront suspect with false evidence of guilt (30%).
9. Use praise or flattery (30%).
10. Appeal to the detective’s expertise/authority (29%).
11. Appeal to the suspect’s conscience (23%).
12. Minimize the moral seriousness of the offence (22%).
four most successful interrogation tactics in terms of
obtaining a confession were the following (the success rate for each tactic is in
1. Appeal to the suspect’s conscience (97%).
2. Identify contradictions in suspect’s story (91%).
3. Use praise or flattery (91%).
4. Offer moral justifications/psychological excuses (90%).
The greater the number of tactics used and the longer the duration of the interrogation,
the significantly more likely the suspect was to make a confession.
Interestingly, most of the interviews (70%) were completed within one hour and
only eight per cent lasted more than two hours. As far as coercive interviewing
is concerned, Leo found that coercion was present in only four (2%) of the cases.
HOW THINGS CAN GO WRONG DURING INTERROGATION
The main purpose of interrogation is to gather valid information and factual
accounts from suspects in an ethical and legally accepted fashion.
1. False confessions due to coercion. False confessions can happen when police
officers wrongly assume that the suspect is guilty (e.g. by their having blind
faith in their ability to detect deception through non-verbal signs) and feel
justified in coercing a confession from the suspect. This is not to say that
false confessions do not happen without coercion or police impropriety. In
fact, it will be shown in later chapters that they do. However, the greater
the pressure suspects are placed under during interrogation the greater
the likelihood that false confessions will occur.
2. Inadmissible confessions. When confessions are coerced by the police there
is a risk of the evidence being ruled inadmissible when the case goes to
court, even if the confession is true. Confessions are commonly disputed
in court and if it can be proved that the confession was obtained by police
impropriety and or coercion then it is of no evidential value.
3. Coerced confessions resulting in resentment. There is considerable evidence
that coercive and manipulative interrogation techniques. Suspects
do resent being tricked, deceived and coerced by the police and this
may influence how likely they are to dispute the confession when their case
goes to court. In contrast, when offenders confess because the other evidence
against them is strong and where they have an internal need to confess,
they view their confession more favourably
4. Coercion resulting in post-traumatic stress disorder. Studies into the psychological
effects of torture.
5. Undermining public confidence.
suggests that coercive and manipulative
police interrogation techniques may undermine the public confidence
in the police and encourage police corruption.
6. The ‘boomerang effect’. Coercing suspects to confess may sometimes result
in the opposite effects intended by the police. Thus, suspects who would
have confessed in their own time refuse to confess when they feel they are
being rushed or unfairly treated by the police. In other instances, suspects
who have already confessed may retract their confession when they feel
they are pressured too much to provide further information.
Irving classified the tactics used into five different groups according to their
type. The most frequently used types involved the following.
a. Telling suspects that it was futile to deny their involvement in the crime and
they might as well own up to it. This included the use of ‘information bluffs’
(i.e. the police pretending they had more information to link the suspect
with the crime than they had). A variant of this tactic was used with about
half of the suspects.
b. Influencing the suspects’ perception of the consequences of confession was
used with 28 suspects (47%). This included minimizing the seriousness of
the offence and manipulating the suspects’ self-esteem so as to make it
easier for them to confess.
c. Advising suspects that it was in their best interest to confess was used in
one-third of all cases. Here the police implied or suggested to suspects that
it was in the suspects’ best interest to provide the wanted information, for
example, by pointing out the advantages of confessing and disadvantages
of persistent denial.
d. Using custodial conditions, such as confinement and asserting authority. In
this way the police officer may influence the decision-making of the suspect.
This tactic was used with 24 suspects (40%).
e. The offer of promises relating to police discretion, such as hinting that accomplices
would never find out who informed on them and suggesting that
unless the suspect cooperated friends and acquaintances would be interviewed.
These types of tactic were used with 14 suspects (23%)
When suspects choose to exercise their right to silence the police are still
entitled to interview them. The most common response to questions of suspects
exercising their right of silence is by saying ‘No comment’ and in only 5%
of interviews do they remain completely silent (Moston, Stephenson &
Williamson, 1993). In their study, Moston and Engelberg (1993) found that
police officers used five types of strategy to deal with the silences of suspects.
These are the following.
1. ‘Avoidance’ (i.e. stop interviewing the suspect).
2. ‘Downgrading’ (e.g. shifting the questioning to a less threatening topic).
3. ‘Persistence’ (i.e. the officer will continue with the interview along the same
4. ‘Upgrading’ (i.e. exaggerating or emphasizing the seriousness of the offence
in the hope that the suspect will begin to challenge the allegations).
5. ‘Rationalization’ (e.g. telling the suspect that he does not have to follow the
solicitor’s advice to remain silent, or that this is his opportunity to tell his
side of what happened)..
The booklets, and the interview theoretical model on which they are based,
became nationally agreed guidelines on interviewing for both witnesses and
suspects. The mnemonic ‘PEACE’ was used to describe the five distinct parts
of the new interview approach.
1. ‘Preparation and Planning’. Interviewers are taught to properly prepare
and plan for the interview and formulate aims and objectives.
2. ‘Engage and Explain’. The purpose of the interview is explained to the interviewee,
the persons present are introduced, the caution is administered
to the suspect, rapport is established and the officers engage the person in
3. ‘Account’. Officers are taught two methods of eliciting an account from the
interviewee. These are referred to as the ‘Cognitive Interview’ and ‘Conversation
Management’, respectively. The former is based on the work of Fisher
and Geiselman (1992) and can be used with cooperative suspects as well
as with witnesses. In contrast, ‘Conversation Management’, which is based
on the work of Eric Shepherd (see Mortimer & Shepherd, 1999), is recommended
when the degree of cooperation from the suspect is insufficient for
the ‘Cognitive Interview’ techniques to work satisfactorily.
4. ‘Closure’. Officers are taught how to conclude an interview. This involves
the officer summarizing the main points from the interview and providing
the suspect with the opportunity to correct or add anything.
5. ‘Evaluate’. Once the interview is finished, there is need for evaluating the
information obtained and how it impacts on the investigation. The performance
of the interviewers should also be evaluated, but unfortunately the
tapes of interviews are very rarely listened to by police officers (Williamson,
1994). The opportunity for constructive feedback is therefore sadly missed.
This is something that must be corrected in the future.
Persons at Risk During Interviews
in Police Custody: the Royal
_ Current mental state.
_ Intellectual functioning.
_ Reading ability.
_ Interrogative suggestibility.
_ State and trait anxiety.
_ Understanding of legal rights
Interview Tactics and Detainees’ Reactions
As far as the duration of the interviews is concerned, 80% were completed in less
than 30 minutes and 95% were completed within one hour. The results indicate that
the great majority of interviews are very short,99% of the interviews observed completed
within 45 minutes and Baldwin found in his study that only 7% of interviews lasted longer
than one hour .As far as the detainees’ reactions are concerned, the great majority were
polite (97%), generally compliant (83%), and gave full answers (62%). It was
very rare for detainees to react in an angry or suspicious manner (2%) and
crying and sobbing was only noted in four (3%) cases.
What Predicts a Confession?
Why should the presence of a solicitor (lawyer) so markedly reduce the likelihood
of suspects making a confession? There are at least two possibilities. Firstly,
a legal representative may advise his or her client to exercise their rights
to silence, particularly where the evidence against their client is in their
view weak. Secondly, suspects who have decided prior to the police interview
not to make a confession may be more inclined to request the presence of a
It is interesting that prison experience, either on remand or having served a
sentence, rather than the number of previous convictions per se, was predictive
of suspects making a denial. It may be that suspects with experience of prison
were more focused on the potential consequences of making a confession. Having
been to prison may have reinforced their view of the long-term consequences
of conviction and made them more reluctant to make a confession.
The greatest likelihood of suspects of making a confession occurred where
there was no solicitor (lawyer) present and the suspect had consumed illicit drugs within
24 hours of arrest and had not previously been to prison. The likelihood of a
confession occurring under those circumstances was 92%, in contrast to the
average confession rate of 58% for the entire sample.
DETAINEES’ LEGAL RIGHTS
_ They can remain silent.
_ They have the right to obtain legal advice.
_ They can have somebody informed of their arrest.
They are entitled to consult the PACE (CHARTER OF RIGHTS) Codes of Practice.
_ They have the right to a copy of the Custody Record.
Apart from reverting to the original caution, or
changing the wording of the current caution, the best way around this problem
is for the police to do the following.
_ Ensure they understand the caution themselves.
_ Carefully explain each sentence to detainees.
_ Check detainees’ understanding of the caution by having them paraphrase
or explain it.
this section includes the tactic the use of silence. According to the national
guidelines for police interviewers
. . . silence can be a powerful tool to prompt an interviewee to speak. After a question
has been put to a person who is reluctant to answer, or after receiving a reply
which you want elaborating, consider remaining silent (CPTU, 1992a, p. 57).
This variable was taken as any period of silence that exceeded nine seconds in
Det. Constable ‘You have obviously got some sort of problem [name of suspect].
You have obviously got some sort of problem. I’ll help
you all I can, but I can’t help you until I know exactly what’s
gone on. I’ll do what I can to help you, I mean I’m a policeman,
I’ve got a job to do but I’ll do what I can to help you. It’s no good
just sitting there keep saying “I never started it, I never . . . ”
(the suspect attempts to say something but is interrupted),
and think that’s going to be the end of it. It’s not the truth.
I mean I can. . . I’ve been a policeman a long time. I can see
when somebody’s sitting here lying to me. It’s written across
your face you’re lying. It’s written across your face that you’re
lying, you’re not telling the truth. Now why are you not telling
the truth? For what reason [name of suspect]? Eh?’
Suspect ‘I don’t know what the damn reason is, I just didn’t do nothing
wrong . . . ’
The suspect has started to cry, although there is no record
of this on the transcript, and after some lengthy silences the
first interview is terminated.
Type of confession True confession False confession
1. Voluntary Voluntary/reliable Voluntary/unreliable
2. Stress-compliant Involuntary/reliable Involuntary/unreliable
3. Coerced-compliant Involuntary/reliable Involuntary/unreliable
4. Non-coerced-persuaded Impossible Voluntary/unreliable
5. Coerced-persuaded Impossible Involuntary/unreliable
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN TRUE AND FALSE CONFESSIONS
How can true confessions be differentiated from false confessions? In the absence
of good forensic, eyewitness or alibi evidence, or a solid confession from
somebody else, which essentially proves or disproves the veracity of the confession,
it is typically very difficult to establish the ground or historical truth of
_ Confessions of people who voluntarily attend the police station and turn
themselves in should be viewed with caution. The motive and reasoning
given for confessing without being suspected of the crime will need to be assessed.
When there is good corroboration for the details given in the confession,
and when the person had previously confessed to the crime to relative
or a friend, this supports the validity of the confession. As discussed earlier
in this chapter, people do sometimes go the police station to confess in order
to protect the real culprit or if they are under pressure from the real culprit
to ‘take the case’. Nevertheless, such voluntary confessions may well
be true and this possibility should not be overlooked. I have come across
genuine cases of truthful confessions to serious offences, such as murder,
where the offender needed to ‘get the offence off his chest’ by confessing to
it, even several years afterwards.
_ The confession should be viewed with caution when it lacks essential details
and corroboration, but it will need to be considered within the context of the
suspect’s likely motivation. Is it a reflection of lack of genuine knowledge
about the offence or a lack of motivation or ability to reveal information?
_ Denial of certain parts of the offence is common and should not be regarded
as evidence that the confession is false. It could be due to genuine
memory problems or reluctance of the suspect to reveal the full details of the
_ The timing of the retraction is important; late retractions are viewed
with suspicion (this is a complex issue, which is addressed in detail in
_ The defendant’s explanation for having allegedly made a false confession
is an important factor in determining the confession’s validity. The reasons
given need to be carefully evaluated, although Inbau et al. do not provide
an objective basis for doing this.
How do recovered memory cases of childhood sexual abuse differ from false
confession cases? They differ in a number of ways.
_ The context. The context is different: whereas false confessions typically occur
in the context of police interrogation, the reporting of abuse in recovered
memory cases often occurs during therapy.
_ Perpetrator versus victim. The nature of the offence reported in cases of
false confession involves the person confessing to something he or she has
done. In contrast, cases of childhood sexual abuse the memory recovered
typically involves the person being presented as a victim rather than a
perpetrator, although the victim may also be pressured into the latter
role, for example, in cases of alleged satanic abuse (Gudjonsson, 1997b).
Cases of recovered memories have also been reported among alleged perpetrators
(e.g. Gudjonsson, Kopelman & MacKeith, 1999; Ofshe &Watters,
_ Belief versus memory. It will become evident in subsequent chapters that
with internalized false confessions the person typically only presents a belief
of having committed the offence and is often unable to produce or visualize
any memories of the offence. In cases of recovered memories the accuser
is often able to produce a very vivid ‘memory’ of the alleged abuse. This may
well be related to the extent to which the belief and memory are internally
generated rather than resulting from suggestion or pressure from external
sources (e.g. the police, therapist, family members).
_ Internally versus externally generated beliefs and memories. In cases of false
confession it is often easy to trace the external pressure that resulted in
the person making a false confession. In some cases of recovered memory
of childhood sexual abuse the belief and memory concerning the abuse appear
to have been internally generated (i.e. without external suggestion).
Confabulation may be more important in relation to recovered memories
than suggestibility (Gudjonsson, 1997c).
_ Psychological vulnerability. The psychological vulnerabilities associated
with recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse are likely to be different
to those found in cases of false confessions. Cases of recovered memories,
unlike the typical cases of false confessions, often involve people from a
good educational background, whose intellectual and memory functioning
are reasonable (Gudjonsson, 1997b, 1997e) and there is no evidence that
they are unduly suggestible (Gudjonsson, 1997c; Leavitt, 1997). Interestingly,
findings of good intelligence and memory, and low suggestibility, have
been found among children who claim memories of previous life existence
(see Chapter 14 for details of the findings in relation to suggestibility).
An example of Mr S’s concrete thinking is well illustrated during the fourth
interview when he was asked what a lie is, as shown by the following conversation
with a police officer.
Police ‘Do you know what a lie is?’
Mr S ‘What do you mean?’
Police ‘Can you tell me what a lie is?’
Mr S ‘What lie?’
Police ‘Do you know the difference between truth and a lie?’
Mr S ‘What lie?’
Police ‘Any lie.’
Mr S ‘What do you mean?’
The main conclusion from the psychological assessment was that Mr S had
not been functioning well mentally during the police interviews and it was
unsafe to rely on his answers. My view was that Mr S had not been ‘fit for
interview’, which was highlighted by his confusion, disorientation and concrete
thinking during the police interviews.
The Home Office Working Group advised that a detained person may be unfit
for interview: in the following cases.
1. If the interview could to a significant degree worsen the physical or mental
illness that is present.
2. When what the detainee says or does may be considered unreliable in subsequent
court proceedings, because of the impaired physical or mental
According to the Home Office Guidelines, the FME will need to quantify the
risk of such unreliability into one of four categories.
A Psychology of Interrogations and Confessions
_ Definite risk. Here the detainee is unlikely to be fit for interview at any
_ Major risk. The detainee is unfit for interview at the time of the assessment,
but a further evaluation is required at a later time.
_ Some risk. Here precautions are advised, which may include a recommendation
for the presence of an appropriate adult or a referral to other medical
or psychiatric advice.
_ No discernible risk. The interview can proceed without the presence of an
appropriate adult or a further medical or psychiatric intervention.