Perceptions of coercion in the questioning of criminal suspects

Moston, Stephen, and Fisher, Megan (2007) Perceptions of coercion in the questioning of criminal suspects. Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling, 4 (2). pp. 85-95.

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Despite the popular perception that criminal investigations are often solved through the collection of objective or scientific evidence, most cases submitted for prosecution rely on confessions by suspects. Surprisingly, very little is known about which techniques are effective at eliciting admissions from guilty suspects, and in turn, which might be considered to be coercive. In the current study, 200 mock jurors (in Australia) were asked to rate the acceptability of 13 common police interviewing techniques (such as pointing out contradictions, minimisation, silence, etc.). Subjects read one of four versions of a transcript of an interrogation with a suspected sex offender. The transcripts only differed in one detail, the final outcome of the interrogation, with each subject reading one of four different endings (suspect confessed, made a partial admission, denied, or used their right to silence). The results showed that the majority of the strategies were perceived to be coercive, but acceptable. Further, the ends do not justify the means, in that perceptions of coercion were consistent regardless of the outcome of the interview. The findings are discussed in relation to existing laws and procedures governing police interrogation of suspects, including the ambiguities over the definitions of coercion, oppression, and torture.

Item ID: 2932
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1544-4767
Keywords: police; interrogation; coercion; confession; torture
Date Deposited: 29 Sep 2009 23:41
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1602 Criminology > 160205 Police Administration, Procedures and Practice @ 100%
SEO Codes: 94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9404 Justice and the Law > 940404 Law Enforcement @ 100%
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