The discursive construction of evidence in police interviews: case study of a rape suspect

Kate Haworth*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article presents an analysis of the discursive construction of evidence in an English police interview with a rape suspect. The analytic findings differ from previous research on police–suspect interview discourse, in that here the interviewers actively lead an interviewee to produce defence evidence. The article seeks to make the following contributions: (i) it demonstrates the interactional mechanisms through which the interviewers co-construct the interviewee’s own version of events, and highlights the potential legal ramifications by focusing on the construction of one key evidential aspect, namely, consent; (ii) it lends weight to the hypothesis that interviewer agendas are strongly determinative of interview outcomes in terms of the evidential account produced, while making the important new contribution of showing that this is not simply a case of police interviewers being inevitably prosecution-focused; and (iii) it aims to provoke further investigation into the significance of interviewer discursive influence in cases where consent is at issue, against a backdrop of increasing numbers of rape cases being discontinued by the police at this early stage of the criminal justice process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)194-214
Number of pages21
JournalApplied Linguistics
Issue number2
Early online date27 Apr 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2017

Bibliographical note

Copyright: Oxford University Press. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.doi:10.1093/applin/amv009.

Funding: Economic and Social Research Council (PTA-030-2004-00907).


  • police interviews
  • applied linguistics


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