Examining the efficacy of joint investigative interview training through analysing the quality of interview conducted with role-play actors

  • Annabelle Nicol

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Best-practice guidelines, grounded in psychological theory, are important for interviewers who engage with a vulnerable group such as children who allege abuse (reviewed in Chapters 1-6). Prior to conducting interviews, Scottish investigative interviewers must complete a JIIT (Joint investigative Interviewing Training) course, where they interview an adult actor who plays the role of an abused child. Limited field work suggests child interviews in Scotland are of low quality. No empirical work on the quality of JIIT precludes an understanding of whether i) interviewers are trained to an appropriate standard, ii) gains made in training diminish over time (i.e. when compared against performance in the field) and iii) whether adults from acting companies respond in a manner that reinforces best practice questioning by the trainee.

    This thesis examines the line of questioning and responses of actors during JIIT. Specifically, whether JIIT outcomes differ i) in two different police jurisdictions with separate untrained actors (Chapter 7), ii) according to whether training sessions are scribed or recorded (Chapter 8) and iii) according to an actor‟s expertise in the psychological literature on investigative interviewing (Chapter 9). Across studies, trainees were poor at using both "ground rules‟ and closure rules. Lines of questioning did not differ between two forces and untrained actors/trainees responded-to/used invitations to the same extent as directives. Untrained actors provided more informative responses to focussed prompts and suggestive questions than they did to open prompts. Although a „trained‟ adult actor provided a more authentic training opportunity, trainees were not sensitive to this feedback and it did not encourage better lines of questioning. Scribed versus recorded accounts of interviews captured fewer ground rules and closure rules, shorter responses to invitations, incomplete and incorrect records in response to invitations and, on average, omitted two details per interview.

    By way of comparison, analyses of actual Scottish field interviews with children (Chapter 10) revealed no use of any ground/closure rules at levels greater than chance. Children provided more details in response to option-posing questions and relatively short but detailed responses to suggestive questions, only in comparison to „other‟ questions in both instances. Of note in relation to earlier chapters, children gave longer average responses to invitations than directives. Overall the findings of this thesis indicate that interviewers‟ training is inconsistent across jurisdictions in Scotland and that many aspects of the training are inappropriate. For example, the adult actors hired to role-play abused children do not reinforce the use of best practice open prompts selectively as we would hope and the use of scribing as a method to record interviews is unreliable and resulted in both loss and incorrect recording of information. Further, the field interviews conducted with children in Scotland are of a low standard (6% open prompts), therefore, practical recommendations are made (Chapter 11) in light of these concerning findings.
    Date of Award14 Aug 2017
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Abertay University
    SupervisorChristopher Watkins (Supervisor), Penny Woolnough (Supervisor), David J. La Rooy (Supervisor) & Fiona Gabbert (Supervisor)

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