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Human Rights Is Not Enough: The Need for Demonstrating Efficacy of an Ethical Approach to Interviewing in India

NCJ Number
Legal and Criminological Psychology Volume: 13 Issue: 1 Dated: February 2008 Pages: 89-106
Laurence Alison; Sudhansu Sarangi; Allison Wright
Date Published
February 2008
18 pages
This study compared attitudes about human rights and support for police coercive interviewing practices among samples of police officers, offenders, and the general public in India.
Both police officers and the general public accepted custodial violence and the use of intimidating interrogation strategies more readily than did the offenders. They were also more willing to suspend suspects' human rights. In addition, individuals who scored high on a coercive belief scale were significantly likely to favor custodial violence and to suspend human rights for suspects and offenders. Further, the self-reported frequency with which Indian police officers used intimidating and nonintimidating interviewing techniques was related to their beliefs about and support for suspects' human rights, as well as the extent to which they perceived intimidating interviewing methods to be useful. These findings may suggests that beliefs about the necessity and effectiveness of intimidating interviewing strategies may well be embedded in Indian social-control values. The effectiveness of a human rights agenda requires that Indian police officers be convinced of the effectiveness of ethical interviewing standards as well as the adverse practical and legal consequences of using inappropriate interviewing methods. One hundred police officers, 50 offenders, and 50 members of the general public completed a questionnaire that assessed their attitudes about the suspects' rights and the use of coercion in suspect interviews. Questions solicited demographic information, views on the rights of suspects and the use of custodial violence, and ratings on the usefulness of 14 different interviewing techniques. 3 tables and 42 references