Improvements to the training and professional development of Police in investigative interviewing
Submitting InstitutionUniversity of Portsmouth
Unit of AssessmentSocial Work and Social Policy
Summary Impact TypeLegal
Research Subject Area(s)
Studies In Human Society: Criminology
Psychology and Cognitive Sciences: Psychology
Summary of the impact
The University of Portsmouth research into effective use of the Cognitive
Interview (CI) by police forces in the UK and overseas has led to
recommendations for changes to training of police officers in this field
throughout their careers being adopted in several countries across the
world. The work, led by Dr Becky Milne, has also been used to inform the
decision making processes of a variety of national policy reviews and
professional bodies. Research has improved the standard of interviewing,
particularly for sensitive investigations such as rape and child abuse.
In 1998 the Home Office awarded funding to the University of Portsmouth
to conduct a nationwide examination of police interviewing in the UK. The
project was supervised by Dr. Milne. The research (the first world-wide)
examined real world police interviews of suspects, witnesses and victims
of crime. The resultant research report, now internationally recognised as
the Clarke and Milne (2001) report, found that the training officers had
received was not being fully transferred into the workplace. It was deemed
at the time that a primary reason for a lack of training transference was
the mode of the training itself (not practical enough).
More recently, Milne's work has examined interviewing skills within
certain crime types; specifically sexual offence investigations. A
national evaluation was undertaken with NPIA (National Police Improvement
Agency) examining this highly sensitive area of police work, where real
life victim interviews were analysed, revealing again that there was an
overall, but widely varying, deficiency in skill levels among interviewing
officers. These individual differences were replicated in work conducted
in Australia (with Prof Powell and Prof Kebbell) where the research
focused on interviews of suspects in child abuse investigations. This
latter research revealed that the ability to learn to conduct an effective
interview for policing purposes is not something that all police officers
are capable of doing to the standard necessary for effective interviewing
in sensitive circumstances. The studies also concluded that for those with
the basic skills to be able to be trained, the correct delivery of career
long training and continuing professional development is vital for
optimising interviewing skills and improving the quality of interviewing.
Research focussing on the use of the Cognitive Interview (CI) — when
investigating police officers who were trained according to the tiered
approach recommended by Dr Milne's earlier work — as an innovative
technique in policing; has analysed its social and cognitive components
and their relative efficacy for use with vulnerable groups. This has
encompassed testing the underlying theory and empirical base. The CI has
been found to enhance recall significantly with all types of population;
including people with learning disabilities, the older adult and children.
One of the reasons for a lack of transference found in the Clarke and
Milne report was the fact that officers found the CI too cumbersome for
use in all types of interview (from road side information gathering
exercises to full visually recorded interviews). Thus the team developed a
new front-line police interview which has been piloted by forces in the UK
and the New Zealand Police.
Overall Milne's body of research has contributed to the theoretical
literature with regard to investigative interviewing skills transference
in the police and to individual difference.
References to the research
Clarke, C., and Milne, R. (2001). National evaluation of the
PEACE investigative interviewing course. Police Research Award
Scheme. London: Home Office. Available on request.
Dando, C., Omerod, T., Wilcock, R., and Milne, R. (2011). When
help becomes hindrance: Unexpected errors of omission and commission in
eyewitness memory resulting from change temporal order at retrieval? Cognition,
121(3), pp.416-421. DOI: 10.1016/j.cognition.2011.06.015
Holliday, R.E, Humphries, J. E., Milne, R., Memon, A., Houlder,
L., Lyons, A., and Bull, R., (2012). Reducing misinformation effects in
older adults with the cognitive interview mnemonics. Psychology and
Aging, 27, 1191-1203. DOI: 10.1037/a0022031 Ref2 output:
Read, J., Powell, M., Kebbell, M., Milne, R. and Steinberg, R.
(2013). Evaluating police interviewing practices with suspects in child
sexual abuse cases. Policing and Society. Pp.1-22. ISSN 1043-9463
Snook, B., Luther, K., Quinlan, H., and Milne, R. (2012). Let `em
talk: A Field study of police suspect questioning practices. Criminal
Justice and Behavior, 29(10). pp.1328-1339. ISSN 0093-8548 DOI: 10.1177/0093854812449216
Westera, N., Kebbell, M., and Milne, R. (2013). Losing two thirds
of the story: a comparison between recorded police interviews and the live
evidence of rape complainants. Criminal Law Review, 4, 290-308.
ISSN 0011-135X. Available on request.
Details of the impact
Research findings in respect of police interview training and the use of
the CI have provided police forces world-wide with the evidence base to
both improve the training of police officers throughout their careers and
has allowed implementation of new, innovative techniques valuable in
working with vulnerable individuals. Improved, reliable, interviewing
plays an important part in the justice process, and appropriate handling
of vulnerable individuals improves their access to justice.
The Clarke and Milne report, widely published following the research
project, made a number of recommendations for police interviewing. Many of
the recommendations have been implemented. Amongst the most apparent
changes is the adoption of the recommended Tiered approach to developing
an interviewers skills across their career, which was fully adopted by the
UK police as a result of the report and has formed part of the UK
government's "Professionalising the Investigative Process" (PIP) agenda
and associated National Occupation Standards. The Tiered approach has also
been adopted by the New Zealand Police Force, Australian Federal Police
and two Australian Territories. The uptake in these locations stemmed from
dissemination work by Dr Milne who met with Police representatives and
gave presentations on the team's research.
The group's research into the CI (Fisher, Milne & Bull, 2011) has
encouraged the adoption of the CI by police organisations across the world
(in North America, Europe, Australasia, Asia and Africa). The research has
been used by Milne to develop teaching materials and training packages for
Police Investigators, training investigators from across the world,
including from the UK, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Cyprus,
Germany, Malta, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden. The training has continued
to be enriched by ongoing research and Milne has been able to incorporate
her most recent work on interviewing vulnerable groups, interviewing
suspects and critical failure points (which can lead to miscarriages of
justice) into the training.
As a result of her research, Milne has been asked to advise several
national policing bodies on the use of interview techniques appropriate to
vulnerable groups and has drawn upon the team's research findings to
provide appropriate advice. The research study on sexual offences was
cited within the Stern Review in which Baroness Stern examined the
investigation of rape within the UK and led directly to changes in police
interviewing behaviour at the `coal-face' by developing actual interview
techniques that officers can utilise in the field, by advancing training
programmes, and at a strategic level by influencing police policy.
The research findings with respect to the innate skills require for
successful training as an investigative interviewer have forced
organisations to examine their training policies and to adapt selection
processes, both in terms of selecting officers for advanced interview
training and for roles in the force.
The research findings have informed Milne's work as an invited member of
a specialist database of experts for the UK police service (National Crime
Agency; since 2002). She has acted as an expert witness in court
proceedings and as a subject matter expert in real investigations using
her expertise and research results to advise on the best ways to interview
various individuals in an enquiry (e.g. current case: Savile inquiry). As
an elected member of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO)
Investigative Interviewing Strategic Steering Group (a group whose role is
to direct national strategy, policy and practice in the UK) Milne has been
able to inform discussions at the highest level in UK policing with the
latest research outcomes from the team's research work. As a result of her
work for the UK police she was the first (and only) academic awarded by
ACPO, the Tom Williamson Award for outstanding achievement in the field of
investigative interviewing (2009). Among the documents produced by ACPO
which have been influenced by Milne's research are;
(i) Interviewing vulnerable groups for legal purposes — Welsh Assembly
(ii) Interviewing vulnerable groups; A guide for legal practitioners;
Scottish Office (2005);
(iii) Achieving Best Evidence; A guide for interviewing children and
vulnerable groups for legal purposes (Home Office, 2007;2010);
(iv) National Investigative Interviewing Manual (New Zealand Police,
2008,2012) — now also used in Australia (2012).
The study of police interview techniques is of great public importance
and interest, and the general public has both the desire and right to know
that the best available techniques are employed in the pursuit of justice.
Recently Milne helped design and presented a BBC/OU television series
(three programmes) called Eyewitness that examined the use of the
CI in the real world of investigating serious crime. There was an average
of 630,000 viewers per episode on the first showing, the programmes
reached a wide audience and raised the public profile of interviewing as a
highly important police skill.
Sources to corroborate the impact
Inspector and Professional Practice Manager, Education and
Training Command, Queensland Police. Letter corroborating
that the research findings initiated at the outset and are having a
direct impact on the creation of interview policy and training within
Queensland Police. It was also outlined that the research findings are
being utilised by front line officers who are conducting interviews of
witnesses and victims in the most serious of cases.
Assistant Commissioner, Australian Federal Police.
Letter corroborating that the research directly informs the
professionalization of police interviews in UK and Australia.
Specifically with regard the development of search strategies to locate
concealed victims of crime.
Inspector, Head of Investigation Training, New Zealand Police.
Letter and email corroborating that the research helped to inform
directly the creation of the tiered approach to interviewing in New
Zealand. The underpinning research also formed the backbone of the
National New Zealand Interviewing guide and associated doctrine. He
noted in an email that; "There is no doubt that without your guidance
and support NZ Police would not have developed and implemented a world
leading II training programme". Furthermore, it was outlined that the CI
research formed the core of the New Zealand Tier 3 witness training
Professor at Centre of Excellence of Policing and Security,
Griffith University. Letter corroborating that the research
helps to inform evidence-based policing in the world of interviewing. In
addition, it outlines that the research base has leadership and standing
Chief Constable, Chair of the ACPO Investigative Interviewing
Strategic Steering Committee, ACPO National Lead for Investigative
Interviewing. Letter corroborating that the research has had
a contribution to UK police interviewing and that this in turn has
resulted in successful prosecutions. It is outlined that the research
directly helped to create the tiered approach to interview training that
exists in the UK and that the research has a National impact on UK
police interviewing policy, practice and procedure.
- Criminal Justice System (2009). Achieving Best Evidence in
Criminal Proceedings; Guidance on Interviewing Victims and Witnesses,
and Using Special Measures. London; Office for Criminal Justice
Reform. Dr Milne was part of the writing team of this national document
that all police officers and social workers must abide by when
interviewing vulnerable groups for legal purposes in the UK
Practical Guide to Investigative Interviewing. Bramshill:
NSLEC. Demonstrates that the tiered approach to interviewing as
recommended by Dr Milne's research was adopted in the UK.
Learning Descriptors; Specialist Investigative Interviewing;
Development Programmes. Module B. Witness Interviewing. (2008).
Bramshill: NPIA. The National interview guidance outlining recommended
practice for interviewing witness in the UK recommends only one academic
text; Milne, R., and Bull, B. (1999). Investigative Interviewing;
Psychology and Practice. Chichester: Wiley.
Witness Interviewing Guide. New Zealand: New Zealand Police.
And Investigative Interviewing Doctrine. New Zealand; New
Zealand Police. Acknowledges Dr Milne "for her time, expertise and
advice that have contributed to the development of this guidance" and
refers to the aforementioned Milne and Bull (1999) text.
- Feature in the News (Portsmouth) outlining Milne helping the
writers of the programme The Bill with regard to witness interviewing.
- Feature in the Police Professional bulletin and the Daily
Mirror, (Sept/Oct, 2008) regarding her research on the standards
of police officers interviewing of sexual offence victims.
- Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 Eyewitness; (April/May; 2010). Milne
was an advisor and presenter in this TV series examining how human
memory affects the police interviewing and investigation process. An
average of 630,000 viewers per episode.
- Two features on BBC1SouthToday (Dec, 2010) regarding the
launch of the new Centre of Forensic Interviewing. Dr Milne was
interviewed in the Centre, about the Centre that she launched.
- A report about Dr Mine's keynote lecture in the Magistrate,
which she gave at the 650 years of Justices' of the Peace celebrations,
University of Birmingham; (May 2011); Witness evidence; fact or
- Dr Milne was interviewed on BBC Radio Solent (May, 2012) about
her research concerning how more sex offenders are likely to be
convicted if victims accounts are visually recorded and presented as