Institute of Criminology, Sydney

Interrogating Images

Audio-visually recorded police questioning of suspects

Overview

Police interrogation attracts debate and controversy around the world. Audio-visual recording is widely regarded as a panacea for problems in police questioning of suspects.

Interrogating Images presents the first empirical study of the routine use of audio-visual recording anywhere in the world, focusing on New South Wales, Australia where such recording has been required for more than a decade. Its introduction is set in a historical account of disputes and concerns about police questioning of suspects. There is a detailed study of the participants in the interrogation process.

Various styles of police interviewing are identified, showing that many assumptions about the nature and purpose of interrogation are inaccurate. A chapter assesses the impact in NSW of ‘investigative interviewing’, a questioning style very different from that used in the USA. The penultimate chapter examines the experiences and perceptions of criminal justice professionals – judges, defence lawyers, prosecutors, and police.

Interrogating Images concludes by pointing to some dangers of misusing audio-visual recording. If the complete questioning process is not recorded, confessions may be rehearsed and unreliable. A second danger is the misreading of images, particularly by those who overestimate their ability to identify deception from a suspect’s ‘body language’. Audio-visual recording can be a useful tool, but it must be one part of a broader process of effectively regulating investigative practices.

Interrogating Images is informative and thought provoking reading for lawyers, police investigators, academic researchers, policy-makers, legislators, students and those with an interest in police interrogation and its implications for criminal justice processes.

Reviews

The book examines interview techniques of police officers, and gives fascinating insights into past and present police practices, such as how much to tell the suspect about the crime before the interview, the style of language and manner of the interviewer and how officers challenge inconsistencies in a suspect’s story. The text is liberally illustrated with examples from the research. - Victims’ Voice (SA), December 2007

All Canadian police services should consider purchasing Volume 23 of The Institute of Criminology Series, both for the importance of the subject and the soundness and depth of the analysis conducted. Is there any area of controversy in policing more easily resolved than demonstrating through technology that the person questioned was treated fairly and fully informed of all rights? ...this text offers an encyclopedia of information as to what may and must not be done when questioning detainees. - Canada’s National Law Enforcement, Blue Line Magazine, August/ September 2009

Table of Contents

Introduction: From verballing to ERISP
Researching recorded interrogation
Dramatis personae: police, suspects and others
The interviewing process ‘PEACE’ and investigative interviewing skills
Perceptions and experiences of videotaping the questioning of suspects
Conclusion: the role of audio-visual recording in criminal justice

References/Index

Of interest...