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Let 'Em Talk!: A Field Study of Police Questioning Practices of Suspects and Accused Persons

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice and Behavior Volume: 39 Issue: 10 Dated: October 2012 Pages: 1328-1339
Brent Snook; Kirk Luther; Heather Quinlan; Rebecca Milne
Date Published
October 2012
12 pages
The real-life questioning practices of Canadian police officers were examined.
The real-life questioning practices of Canadian police officers were examined. Specifically, 80 transcripts of police interviews with suspects and accused persons were coded for the type of questions asked, the length of interviewee response to each question, the proportion of words spoken by interviewer(s) and interviewee, and whether or not a free narrative was requested. Results showed that, on average, less than 1 percent of the questions asked in an interview were open-ended, and that closed yes-no and probing questions composed approximately 40 percent and 30 percent of the questions asked, respectively. The longest interviewee responses were obtained from open-ended questions, followed by multiple and probing question types. A free narrative was requested in approximately 14 percent of the interviews. The 80-20 talking rule was violated in every interview. The implications of these findings for reforming investigative interviewing of suspects and accused persons are discussed. Abstract published by arrangement with Sage Journals.