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AbstractThis 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).
CitationLeahy-Harland, S. and Bull, R., (2020). 'The impact of context on real-life serious crime interviews'. Police Practice and Research, pp. 1-18.
JournalPolice Research and Practice