The role of evidence in the interviewing of suspects: an analysis of Australian police transcripts
Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to determine the role of evidence in the interviewing of suspects. Design/methodology/approach - Analyses were made of 55 interview transcripts about the questioning of suspected sex offenders by officers of an Australian police service. Findings - In 22 per cent of these interviews the suspect actively attempted to discover what the evidence against them was and in 9 per cent the interviewer attempted to learn of the suspect's knowledge of this evidence. Interviewers tended to favour a strategy of first asking the suspect to provide a free account of their role in the alleged crime. If this approach failed to elicit a confession, interviewers would then disclose at least some of the evidence against that suspect. In 93 per cent of the interviews some form of evidence disclosure was made by the interviewer; this was usually achieved by referring to the evidence indirectly rather than explicitly. Originality/value - Although such disclosures of information seemed to have little impact on suspects' decisions to confess, this study illustrates the important role of evidence in the suspect interviewing process.
British Journal of Forensic Practice