Principles for interviewing

Ella Rhodes reports.

A steering group including psychologists has recently published a new set of principles for interviewing during investigations. The document came about after the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture in 2016 recognised that most instances of coercion and torture occurred during interrogations or when attempting to obtain confessions.

The then-Special Rapporteur on Torture, Professor Juan Méndez, advocated for the development of a universal protocol which set out standards for non-coercive interviewing methods – and brought together a steering committee to develop this protocol. Chaired by Méndez and Mark Thomson, Former Secretary-General for the Association for the Prevention of Torture, the committee also included two BPS members – Professor Ray Bull (University of Derby) and Professor Gavin Oxburgh (University of Northumbria).

The document is based around six principles: foundations, practice, vulnerability, training, accountability and implementation. These cover many aspects of effective interviewing including a need for it to be based on science, law and ethics, having specialist training for interviewers, and having transparent and accountable institutions.

Read the full document, Principles on Effective Interviewing for Investigations and Information Gathering.

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