An examination of investigative interviewing techniques using road crash incidents as stimuli

Roos, Colette R. (2007) An examination of investigative interviewing techniques using road crash incidents as stimuli. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


The investigative interviewing of eyewitnesses is an important part of the judicial system and is essential in police investigations to identify culpable parties. However, interviewing witnesses to elicit accurate recall is not without some flaws (Ainsworth, 2002). Researchers have acknowledged that recall of information is a complex process vulnerable to variables which impede the retrieval of accurate information (Gudjonsson, 1996; Loftus, 1979; 1992).
To improve witness recall, psychologists developed the Cognitive Interview (CI) procedure to help interviewers retrieve more correct information from witnesses (Fisher & Geiselman, 1992). The use of the CI has been shown to increase accuracy in many populations (Memon, Holley, Wark, Bull, & Koehnken, 1996; Milne & Shaw, 1999). However, there are some criticisms of the CI. For example, the CI may cause confusion for witnesses (Kebbell, Milne, & Wagstaff, 1999), takes longer to administer than a standard police interview (Croft, 1995) and contain components which are reported to undermine the effectiveness of this procedure (Boon & Noon, 1994). This research program utilised three studies in a multimethod approach to evaluate investigative interviewing procedures, from an experimental and applied perspective. The overarching aim of this research was to identify a parsimonious, effective and efficient interview procedure which overcame some of the limitations recognized in the CI.
The first study employed an experimental methodology to test the effectiveness of the CI and two alternative versions of the CI, to determine which interview procedure resulted in the most correct and least incorrect amounts of information being elicited from student witnesses to a road incident stimulus. Results indicated that the truncated group utilizing mnemonics Tell All and Reinstate Context elicited as much correct and less incorrect information than the ‘Full CI’ group, and took less time to administer.
Study Two examined the perceptions of the interview procedure from the witnesses’ perspective. Witnesses were asked to complete a questionnaire which was designed to investigate what the participants thought about how the interview was conducted. Results indicated that, overall, the witnesses found that the interviewers engaged in practices and behaviours at a similar skill level and appreciated the rapport building and clarity of the interviewers. A content analysis revealed that the witnesses favoured some mnemonics over others. The qualitative statements made in regard to questions in the questionnaire are presented. Study Three used a triangulation methodology to determine what the Queensland Police Service officers were currently trained in and practising in the field. Secondary sources, a questionnaire, focus group and case study methodologies were used to make this determination. Findings indicated that there were areas where the police service could improve training of officers to help facilitate interviewing of witnesses. The integration of the findings from the three studies will help to inform the current state of research in the area of investigative interviewing. In particular, this research provides a target examination of interviewing practices in a sub-section of the Queensland Police Service. The findings from the three studies were used to identify an interview procedure which obtained more correct information, did not gain an increase in incorrect information, reduced the time required to conduct the interview, was not confusing for the witnesses, or the officers, and contained no inherent problems for the judicial system. Further recommendations are made for the use of interview protocols for investigative interviewing of road incidents.

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ID Code: 20501
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Gow, Kathryn & Sheehan, Mary
Keywords: cognitive interview, investigative interview, road incidents, communication, police interview, witness recall
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety - Qld (CARRS-Q)
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 18 May 2009 04:58
Last Modified: 23 Jun 2017 14:40

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