article review Essay

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In this paper Snook and Keating (2011) article “A field study of adult witness interviewing practices in a Canadian police organization” printed in Legal and Criminological Psychology vol. 16, pp 160­172 is summarized and a critical reflection is presented.

Article summary Overview The aim of the study was to examine the nature of police interviewing practices within a
Canadian police precinct. Secondary aim was to understand effect that interviewer, interviewee, and interview characteristics have on interview flows. Aims of this study were based on researches done before. Especially big influence had Wright and Alison (2004) and Smith,
Powell, Lum (2009) studies. Wright and Alison (2004) in their study examined interviews in Canada and found them imperfect. Authors found that officers tend to speak longer than interviewee, interruption was used often, closed ended questions were frequent and cognitive techniques were used rarely
(Wright and Alison, 2004). Wright and Alison (2004) in their study proposed that more insightful study is needed. Snook and Keating (2011) tried to replicate Wright and Alison (2004) study with lager sample. Smith et al (2009) investigated the relationship between job status, interviewing experience,

gender, and police officers’ adherence to open­ended questions. They found that only timing of training provided some influence on interview performance. Authors concluded that other variables were unlikely to affect interview’s flow (Smith et al., 2009). Snook and Keating (2011) decided to investigate interviewer, interviewee and context of interview because it may be a key point in training police officers conducting interviews. Summary of Methodology For study convenience sample of police interviews with 90 adult witnesses was obtained from police organization in Atlantic Canada. Variables that were coded were:
Interview (
e.g. type of crime
), interviewer( primary interviewer’s gender, rank, secondary interviewer’s gender, rank
) and interviewee characteristics( e.g. witness’ gender, age
Primary interviewer’s interviewing approach (question types coded: open­ended questions, closed­ended questions, probing questions, leading questions, forced­choice questions, opinion questions, multiple questions, re­asked questions, and clarification questions).
Also total word count of interview, total word count of interviewer(s), total word count of interviewee and if free narrative was requested. Outline of Results Most frequently asked questions during interview were closed­ended and probing questions, while open­ended, clarification­based, accounted, multiple, re­asked, forced­choice, leading


questions and opinion/statements were less common to be used. Important talking rule 80–20 was broken in 89% of the interviews (Snook and Keating, 2011). Interviewer seldom interrupts witness and interruption positively correlated with the length of the interview. Free narrative was requested in 73% of the interviews (Snook and Keating, 2011). Generally effect of interviewer, interview, or interviewee characteristics was marginal. Summary of Conclusion Interviewing practice does not vary between different interviewers, interviews, and interviewees.
It was found that police officers tend to do “standard police interviews”. For Canadian police to be able to conduct effective interviews investments should be done for evidence based training
(e.g. cognitive interview). Comparing dependable variables the biggest influence in interviewing is done by crime type. Critical reflection