chapter  9
23 Pages

Will it all end in tiers? Police interviews with suspects in Britain

WithAndy Griffiths, Becky Milne

The interviewing of witnesses and suspects is a core function of policing across the world. In Britain, historically there was no formal interview training for police officers and officers learnt from watching others (Moston and Engleberg 1993; Norfolk 1997). The concept of training officers to interview witnesses was unheard of, confessions obtained from interviews with suspects were seen as the best evidence of guilt and ‘good’ interviewers were those who could persuade suspects to confess to crimes. In 1992, the Association of Chief Police Officers for England and Wales published the first national training programme for interviewing. This was designed to train police officers to interview both witnesses and suspects (Central Planning and Training Unit, 1992). It was known as the PEACE interview model (see p. 172). A decade later an updated five-tier interview strategy is in the process of being implemented as the latest step in the evolution of police interviewing within the UK. The strategy has built upon the foundation laid down by the PEACE model. It has developed the original single model into a more comprehensive approach drawn from academic research in the subject and fresh developments in the criminal justice system. The new approach is designed to cater for officers at different stages of their careers and for dealing with different types of crimes. Tier one is an introduction to interviewing for new police officers, probationers or police recruits. Tier two is a development of this and is aimed at more experienced officers engaged in dealing with everyday crime such as theft and

assault (similar to the original PEACE course). Tier three is designed to equip officers to deal with complex and serious crime and is an umbrella term encompassing separate courses for interviewing 1) suspects (see later for a full description); 2) witnesses (the enhanced cognitive interview: see Milne and Bull 1999 for a full description); and 3) witnesses who may be vulnerable or intimidated (Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999; Home Office and Department of Health 2001). Tier four deals with monitoring and supervision of the quality of interviews and tier five introduces the role of the interview co-ordinator for complex and serious crime. This chapter is concerned with what is now known as tier three suspect interviewing but what was previously described as ‘advanced’ interviewing.