Establishing intellectually impaired victims’ understanding about ‘truth’ and ‘lies’: Police interview guidance and practice in cases of sexual assault.

Emma Richardson, Elizabeth Stokoe, Charles Antaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Effective police interviews are central to the justice process for sexual assault victims, but little is known about either actual communication between police officers and witnesses or the alignment between guidance and real practice. This study investigated how police officers, in formal interviews, follow ‘best evidence’ guidance to obtain victims’ demonstrable understandings of ‘truth and lies’. We conducted qualitative conversation analysis of 20 evidentiary interviews between police officers and victims who were ‘vulnerable’ adults or children. Analysis revealed that interviewers initiated conversation about truth and lies inappropriately in three ways: (i) by eliciting confirmations rather than demonstrations of understanding; (ii) by eliciting multiple demonstrations and confirmations of understanding, or (iii) by re-introducing ‘truth and lies’ conversations at incorrect points in the interview. Both (ii) and (iii) imply prior or forthcoming dishonesty on the part of the victim. In the context of encouraging victims to report sexual assault and achieve justice, the article reveals potential communicative barriers in which victims—or their evidence—may be discredited right at the start of the process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)773–792
Number of pages20
JournalApplied Linguistics
Volume40
Issue number5
Early online date8 Jun 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019

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Law enforcement
assault
police
police officer
interview
Demonstrations
conversation
justice
conversation analysis
witness
Guidance
Sexual Assault
Police Interview
Communication
communication
evidence
Police
Justice

Cite this

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Establishing intellectually impaired victims’ understanding about ‘truth’ and ‘lies’: Police interview guidance and practice in cases of sexual assault. / Richardson, Emma; Stokoe, Elizabeth ; Antaki, Charles.

In: Applied Linguistics, Vol. 40, No. 5, 01.10.2019, p. 773–792.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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