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Police Interrogation in Canada: From the Quest for Confession to the Search for the Truth (From International Developments in Investigative Interviewing, P 92-110, 2009, Tom Williamson, Becky Milne, and Stephen P. Savage, eds. - See NCJ-228326)

NCJ Number
Michel St-Yves
Date Published
19 pages
This chapter examines the development of suspect interrogation procedures in Canada, which are linked to recommendations of relevant public inquiries regarding the admissibility of confessions as evidence and the prevention of wrongful convictions.
Although wrongful convictions occur in Canada, false confessions are not the main cause. By a wide margin, mistaken eyewitness identifications top the list. The rare cases of wrongful convictions due to false confessions are apparently most often related to long interrogations in which suggestive questions are repeatedly asked. The Reid technique has had the greatest influence on interrogation practices in North America, as it is the most used interrogation method as well as the most debated. The Reid technique involves the following steps: positive confrontation, theme development, handling denials and overcoming objections, obtaining and retaining the suspect's attention, handling the suspect's passive mood, presenting an alternative question, and developing the details of the offense and converting the confession into a written statement. In Canada, as well as in the United Kingdom, investigators usually record or videotape the questioning of those suspected of major crimes. In discussing the usefulness of persuasive methods of suspect interviewing, the chapter discusses effective methods for preventing false confessions, the audio visual recording of interrogations, training in police interrogation, sensitizing police officers to the existence of "tunnel vision," and the establishment of rules and principles. The following rules are outlined for the practice and teaching of investigative interviewing in Quebec, Canada: keep an open mind and remain objective; build rapport; pay attention; keep a professional attitude; and know how to conclude. In conclusion, the chapter advises that the risk for false confessions increases when the attempt to obtain a confession takes the place of the rest of the investigative process. 4 notes and 62 references