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Cognitive Interview: Inexperienced Police Officers' Perceptions of Their Witness/Victim Interviewing Practices

NCJ Number
Legal and Criminological Psychology Volume: 13 Issue: 1 Dated: February 2008 Pages: 59-70
Coral Dando; Rachel Wilcock; Rebecca Milne
Date Published
February 2008
12 pages
This British study examined less-experienced frontline police officers' perceptions of their witness interviewing practices, with attention to their use of the 10 cognitive interview components taught in the PEACE interview training.
Data show that the officers felt under pressure, inadequately trained, and ill-equipped to conduct a witness interview in accordance with PEACE principles, i.e., "P"lanning and preparation, "E"ngage and explain, "A"ccount, "C"losure, and "E"valuation. PEACE, the current police interviewing model introduced across England and Wales in 1992, was designed to develop the skills necessary to conduct an effective investigative interview. Within PEACE, two styles of interviews are recommended, namely, conversation management for more resistant witnesses and the cognitive interview for use with any cooperative interviewee. This study concerns the cognitive interview (CI). Role-play assessment is an important feature of the recruit training; however, officers' application of the PEACE CT components apparently is not central to this assessment. Thus, it is possible that recruits may leave training school without an adequate grasp of how to apply the PEACE CI components appropriately. This study recommends research on officers' interviewing practices immediately after PEACE CI training but prior to peer-led, transitional on-the-job training. This would provide a clearer picture of whether PEACE training provided at the beginning of an officer's career is sufficient to give them the appropriate interviewing skills for routine interviewing of witnesses. A sample of 221 young, inservice, nonspecialist police officers from 5 British police forces completed a self-report questionnaire on their perceived witness interviewing practices. Respondents were questioned about their use of the PEACE cognitive interview components, their practical experiences of interviewing witnesses and victims, and their views on investigative interviewing training. 2 tables and 27 references