The Psychology of Interrogations and Confessions: A Handbook

The Psychology of Interrogations and Confessions: A Handbook

The Psychology of Interrogations and Confessions: A Handbook

The Psychology of Interrogations and Confessions: A Handbook

Synopsis

This volume, a sequel to The Psychology of Interrogations, Confessions and Testimony which is widely acclaimed by both scientists and practitioners, brings the field completely up-to-date and focuses in particular on aspects of vulnerability, confabulation and false confessions.

The is an unrivalled integration of scientific knowledge of the psychological processes and research relating to interrogation, with the practical investigative and legal issues that bear upon obtaining, and using in court, evidence from interrogations of suspects.

• Accessible style which will appeal to academics, students and practitioners

• Authoritative integration of theory, research, practical implications and vivid case illustration

• Coverage of topical issues like confabulation, false memory, and false confessions
Part of the Wiley Series in The Psychology of Crime, Policing and Law

Excerpt

On a Saturday morning in the early part of 1987 a 17-year-old youth was arrested and taken to a police station for questioning. A few hours later he had confessed in great detail as to how he had sexually molested and then murdered two elderly women before leaving their house. The following day the youth confessed again to the murders, in the presence of a solicitor. In spite of the lack of forensic evidence to link the youth to the murders, the case against the youth was potentially strong because (a) eye witnesses who knew the youth by sight had placed him near the scene and (b) during interrogation the youth had apparently given the police detailed and specific information about the crime, which the police believed could only have been known by the murderer. On the strength of the available evidence the youth's case was referred to the Crown Court, during which time he was remanded in custody. The case had all the hallmarks of a successful crime detection, which would result in a conviction for two murders and sexual molestation.

Whilst on remand in prison the youth consistently told his solicitor and his family that he was innocent of the crimes he had been charged with. He claimed that his self-incriminating confession was due to persuasive police questioning. Matters had been made worse for the youth by the fact that during early detention in prison he had confessed to the murders to prison officers and to a fellow inmate. The youth clearly had been interviewed quite extensively and persuasively by the police officers, but he was a young man of reasonable education and without any obvious mental illness or handicap. On the face of it, the youth had confessed due to skilful interrogation carried out by experienced police officers who had reason to believe that he had committed the crimes. The murder enquiry was thus successfully conducted except for one important fact. The youth was innocent of the crimes with which he had been charged. While the youth was in prison on remand, the real murderer committed another very serious offence before being apprehended.

This brief case history, which will be discussed in more detail in Chapter 9, is one of many that are used in this book to illustrate some of the processes and mechanisms involved in producing erroneous testimony, including a false confession.

The terms 'interview' and 'interrogation', as applied to the police investigative process, imply some form of questioning, whether of a witness to a crime . . .

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