For The Record: Designing, implementing and evaluating a collaborative applied linguistics research project with professional police partners

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


This paper reflects on our experiences of designing and implementing a project in collaboration with a UK police force, aimed at instigating change in a specific area of professional practice: the production of official police records of interviews with suspects. Prior research identified issues with the institutional production of these evidential texts (Haworth 2018); this project brought the analytic insight of linguistics into current practice, focusing on improving accuracy and representational consistency, and aiming to effect meaningful improvement to the delivery of justice for those whose words are used as evidence. A core tenet of the project design was including the practitioner perspective at all stages (following e.g. Roberts 2003); this included questionnaires and focus groups with interviewers and transcribers, alongside analysis of interview recordings and transcripts produced within our partner force.
We discuss the unprecedented challenge of securing data access from collaborators thrust to the frontline of the COVID-19 crisis just as the project began, and how we redesigned the project while still retaining the centrality of practitioner involvement. We summarise the recommendations we made, their reception by our practitioner partners, and evaluate the extent to which our intervention can be said to have succeeded in making meaningful change happen.

Haworth, K. (2018) ‘Tapes, transcripts and trials: The routine contamination of police interview evidence’. International Journal of Evidence and Proof 22(4), 428—450.
Roberts, Celia. 2003. “Applied linguistics applied.” In Applied Linguistics and Communities of Practice, ed. by Srikant Sarangi and Theo van Leeuwen, 132–149. London: Continuum.
Period17 Sept 2022
Event titleApplied Linguistics and Professional Practice (ALAPP) Conference 2022
Event typeConference
LocationJyväskylä, FinlandShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational