chapter  4
16 Pages

UK police interviews with suspects: a short modern history

ByJohn Bearchell

The eliciting of information through the interviewing of victims, witnesses and suspects of crime is seen by many as a core function of policing. However, history shows that public confidence in the criminal justice system can be seriously undermined if malpractice is uncovered in the form of a miscarriage of justice (see Chapter 2 of this volume). Such malpractice has been found to exist, and even flourish, where confession-focused interviewing strategies (with admissions being seen as the best evidence) are prevalent and represent the primary aim of a police interview with a suspect. An alternative strategy approaches the interview as a ‘search for the truth’, which is considered as part of an overall criminal investigation, or even the start of such, rather than an end in its own right (Williamson 2006).