It is essential to recognise that the key purpose in conducting an interview is to obtain facts/evidence, and to search for the truth, from the interviewee in a fair and proper manner.
Best practice is a method called the PEACE model. Planning & Preparation, Engage & Explain, Account, Closure & Evaluation. At the centre of this model is a commitment to best practice, communication skills, control, structure and flexibility.
Planning & Preparation: Planning is the mental process of getting ready. In planning the interviewer must understand;
- The object of the interview
- The relevant rules, regulations or points to prove
- What evidence is already to hand
- What deficiencies exist and what might be done about them
- How to prepare a flexible approach
- What rules must be followed
- What is known about the interviewee
In Preparation, interviewers must think about such things as the location of the interview, the environment and the administrative side e.g. should you have female witness present.
Engage & Explain: All interviews must start somewhere. There are two elements – the human side and the administrative side.
The engage element deals with the human side, set within the principle that first impressions are very important and set the tone for the interview. The explain element deals with the formalities required by law, rules or regulations or best practice and describing to the interviewee how the interview will be conducted.
Account: Having planned, prepared and opened the interview correctly, we come to the core of the interview. There are two styles of interviewing that can be followed at this point depending upon the application.The Cognitive Interview technique is designed for witnesses and has at its heart a process that allows the interviewee to relive the event about which you want information.
In the Conversation Management technique, the interviewee is asked to provide an account of what happened – the interviewer sub-divides this account into parts and probes for more detail, linking each sub-divided part to the next. Using this technique, it is essential that the interviewer be in control of the interview. He or she directs the interview and determines when specific areas are to be probed. This style is appropriate when the witness or suspect is unwilling to be totally frank or honest.
Closure: Before the formal closure of an interview, the interviewers should accurately summarise what has been said, and check that what has been said by each is correctly understood.
Evaluation: The post interview evaluation should look at three areas:
- The information obtained during the interview
- The evidence accumulated during the entire investigation
- The interviewers reflection on his/her own performance during the interview
A review of the information obtained is essential, if admissions were made, what checks might be made to corroborate these? If denials, what checks might be made to prove ordisprove these?
The PEACE model is universally acknowledged as current best practice.