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In evidence: Linguistic transformations of events in police interview reports

  • Gunilla Byrman (a1) and Ylva Byrman (a2)
Abstract

The aim of this article is to examine how police investigators reproduce interviewees’ utterances in narratives, in direct and indirect reported speech, and by enclosing words in reports in quotation marks. Drawing on a larger study of professional writing, the pertinent research question for the current investigation is how writing techniques in police interview reports convey evidential value in the form of reported utterances. A corpus of police reports on domestic violence is explored from the theoretical perspectives of critical discourse analysis, polyvocality and reportative evidentiality. A new analytical framework for polyvocal texts is developed in terms of utterance, source and framer. The results show that it is difficult to determine whether or not words placed within quotation marks are meant to present verbatim quotes. Another finding is that police investigators are not consistent in documenting utterances from different sources, or in showing whether utterances are embedded in other utterances. This may obscure the structure of the original events and the source of crucial utterances, resulting in unclear evidential status for police reports.

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Nordic Journal of Linguistics
  • ISSN: 0332-5865
  • EISSN: 1502-4717
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