Evidence-based interrogation: How investigators should present evidence to suspects

Police investigators rarely receive any training in how to assess and disclose evidence when interviewing suspects. In a research project at ALLP funded by the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group (FBI), Simon Oleszkiewicz, Marika Madfors, Matthew Jones, and Annelies Vredeveldt published a new article in the prestigious academic journal Psychology, Public Policy and Law. The article describes a study in which U.S. law enforcement investigators were trained and tested in how to strategically disclose evidence in investigative interviews to enhance the integrity of their investigations.

The authors synthesized research-based findings on evidence disclosure and practical experience from conducting robbery and homicide investigations. Based on their insights, they developed a training manual and a 2-day training program for police investigators. The training focuses on systematically exploring plausible explanations to gaps and discrepancies within an investigation in a manner that will assist in resolving them, while at the same time substantiating the reliability of the available evidence.

Training tests showed that the investigators followed the training, which reduced their use of risky and problematic interview practices (e.g., lying, bluffing, and baiting with evidence). Further, the training increased their use of productive questioning and effective evidence disclosure strategies (e.g., assessing, ordering, and slicing the evidence for disclosure). This resulted in improved outcomes when interviewing mock suspects. The authors conclude that investigators who disclose evidence in line with the training will likely obtain more reliable evidence in criminal investigations.

The article is published open access in Psychology, Public Policy and Law and can be read here.