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Police interviews with victims and suspects of violent and sexual crimes: interviewees' experiences and interview outcomes
Kristianstad University, Department of Behavioural Sciences. (Psykologi)
2004 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The police interview is one of the most important investigative tools that law enforcement has close at hand, and police interview methods have changed during the twentieth century. A good police interview is conducted in the frame of the law, is governed by the interview goal, and is influenced by facilitating factors that may affect the elicited report. The present doctoral dissertation focuses on police interviews in cases of very serious crimes of violence and sexual offences. Results reveal crime victims’ and perpetrators’ experiences of being interviewed and police officers’ attitudes towards conducting interviews related to traumatizing crimes. Study 1 revealed that when police officers interviewed murderers and sexual offenders, the interviewees perceived attitudes characterized by either dominance or humanity. Police interviews marked by dominance and suspects’ responses of anxiety were mainly associated with a higher proportion of denials, whereas an approach marked by humanity, and responses of being respected were significantly associated with admissions. In line with Study 1, the victims of rape and aggravated assault in Study 2 also revealed the experience of two police interview styles, where an interviewing style marked by dominance and responses of anxiety was significantly associated with crime victims’ omissions of information. Moreover, a humanitarian interviewing style, and crime victims’ feelings of being respected and co-operative, was significantly related to crime victims providing all information from painful events. Special squad police officers’ attitudes towards interviewing crime victims, in Study 3, also showed a humanitarian approach and two dominant approaches, one affective and the other refusing. The attitude towards interviewing suspects of crimes in focus revealed humanitarian and dominant interviewing attitudes, and an approach marked by kindness. The present thesis shows that, during their entire career, an overwhelming majority of the special squad police officers have experienced stressful events during patrol as well as investigative duty. Results show that symptoms from stressful event exposures and coping mechanisms are associated with negative attitudes towards interviewing suspects and supportive attitudes towards crime victim interviews. Thus, experiences from stressful exposures may automatically activate ego-defensive functions that automatically generate dominant attitudes. Moreover, it is important to offer police officers who have been exposed to stressful events the opportunity to work through their experiences, for example, through debriefing procedures. After debriefings, police officers are better prepared to meet crime victims and suspects and, through conscious closed-loop processes, to conduct police interviews without awaking ego-defensive functions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Dept. of Psychology, Univ. , 2004. , 54 p.
Keyword [en]
Police interview, police officers, crime victims, suspects, stress, attitude function
National Category
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hkr:diva-7067ISBN: 91-7265-815-0 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hkr-7067DiVA: diva2:345247
Public defence
2004-03-26, Stockholms University, Department of Psychology, Frescati Hagväg 8, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2010-08-31 Created: 2010-08-24 Last updated: 2010-08-31Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Crime victims' experiences of police interviews and their inclination to provide or omit information
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Crime victims' experiences of police interviews and their inclination to provide or omit information
2004 (English)In: International Journal of Police Science and Management, ISSN 1461-3557, Vol. 6, no 3, 155-170 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This research concerns crime victims’ experiences of Swedish police interviews and their inclination to provide or omit information in such interviews. A group of rape or aggravated assault victims, consisting of 178 women and men, answered a questionnaire in this explorative study, which revealed that police officer behaviour in interviews was mainly calm and obliging. Results from factor analyses show that these crime victims perceived police attitudes to be characterised by either dominance or humanity. While being interviewed, crime victims either responded with feelings of anxiety or feelings of being respected, the latter of which encouraged them to be cooperative. Logistic regressions revealed that interviews marked by dominance and responses of anxiety are significantly associated with crime victims who omit information. Interviews marked by humanity, responses of feeling respected, and cooperation are significantly associated with crime victims who provide information.

Keyword
Police, interviewing, investigative interviewing
National Category
Psychology Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hkr:diva-5745 (URN)
Available from: 2010-01-20 Created: 2010-01-19 Last updated: 2010-08-31Bibliographically approved
2. Murderers' and sexual offenders' experiences of police interview and their inclination to admit or deny crime
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Murderers' and sexual offenders' experiences of police interview and their inclination to admit or deny crime
2002 (English)In: Behavioral sciences & the law (Print), ISSN 0735-3936, Vol. 20, no 1-2, 31-45 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This research concerns murderers' and sexual offenders' experiences of Swedish police interviews and their attitudes towards allegations of these serious crimes. The explorative study is based on a questionnaire answered by 83 men convicted of murder or sexual offences. Results show that when police officers interview murderers and sexual offenders, the individuals perceive attitudes that are characterized by either dominance or humanity. Logistic regression shows that police interviews marked by dominance are mainly associated with a higher proportion of denials, whereas an approach marked by humanity is associated with admissions. When suspects feel that they are respected and acknowledged, they probably gain more confidence and mental space, allowing them to admit criminal behaviour.

Keyword
Police interview, interview, interrogation, investigative interviewing
National Category
Psychology Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hkr:diva-5746 (URN)10.1002/bsl.470 (DOI)000175388000004 ()11979490 (PubMedID)
Available from: 2010-01-20 Created: 2010-01-19 Last updated: 2010-08-31Bibliographically approved

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Citation style
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