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Police interviews try to obtain a narrative of what was observed by witnesses, victims or suspects. Yet there is considerable debate about the most appropriate interview style, the best strategies to use, and the characteristics of interviewers or interviewees that yield the most useful information. Police interviews are integral to criminal investigations where accuracy and completeness are essential if a case is to be solved. They also have evidential ramifications that affect subsequent forensic and trial processes (Fisher et al, 1994; Py et al, 1997; McMahon, 2000; Gudjonsson, 1992).
In addition to the formal interview setting, police engage in “purposive conversations” on a daily basis, which are said to comprise up to 80 percent of their duties (Newberry & Stubbs, 1997). Yet, law enforcement personnel often do not receive adequate training in effective interviewing practices (Wrightsman et al, 1994; Lauchland & Le Brun, 1996). In many cases, there is little formal instruction, with officers learning their interview skills on the job, and this may foster the use of poor methods or result in the loss of potentially valuable information. This limited interview training still occurs for most general duties officers in Australia despite the wealth of research on interview techniques.