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Effective investigative interviewing is at the heart of any police investigation and thus is the root of achieving justice in society. This is because the key aims underpinning any investigation are to: (i) find out what happened, and if anything did happen, (ii) to discover who did what, and (iii) to collect evidence in a way that will be credible to decision-makers. In order to achieve this, investigators need to gather information whose source is usually a person (e.g., a witness, victim, suspect, complainant, first officer at the scene of a crime and so on). Thus, one of the most important tools in an investigator’s toolbox is the ability to interview. This chapter will examine the evidence base examining the most effective methods to interview and assess witness reliability within an investigative context.
In a forensic context, credibility judgements are often of critical importance because of the frequency of disputed accounts. Where there is disagreement about what has happened, considerable attention has been paid to ways of determining how much credibility is warranted in detecting deception. Some techniques that have been proposed include the polygraph, Statement Validity Analysis and Scientific Content Analysis. This chapter examines the credibility of accounts from a witness which involve judgements of the accuracy of the witness's memory. Evaluation is problematic because of different factors that are likely to have an influence on the credibility of an account. In general children, and indeed older adults, are poorer than adults from the general population in aspects of encoding, storage and retrieval, but their ability to give accounts is most influenced by how they are interviewed. Particularly important to judgements of credibility is the way in which accounts are elicited.