Police professionalism in interviews with high value detainees: Cross-cultural endorsement of procedural justice

Jane Goodman-Delahunty, Kate O'Brien, Thea Gumbert

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Procedural fairness has received widespread attention in policing but is under-researched in investigative interviews. In simulated interviews in the laboratory, authorities were more focussed on just outcomes than fair processes, but little research has been conducted in the field to examine practices regarding procedural fairness and variations in different cultures and jurisdictions. This study examined these issues in a sample of experienced police and military practitioners in Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines, South Korea, and Sri Lanka. In semi-structured interviews probing effective practices, 123 practitioners with expertise in criminal investigative and HUMINT interviews described the strategies they used to (a) build rapport; (b) elicit reliable information; and (c) achieve interview goals. Responses to these questions were coded by trained raters for the importance of four procedural justice components: respectful treatment, trust, neutrality and voice. Consensus emerged on the importance of procedural fairness to establish rapport, secure reliable information and achieve interview objectives. The majority of practitioners endorsed strategies respectful of suspect rights and police trustworthiness; less priority was accorded to interviewee voice and police neutrality. Differences in emphasis on voice and neutrality emerged between jurisdictions in relation to cultures High versus Low in Context and cultural variations in individualism, power-distance and uncertainty avoidance. Examples are cited reflecting police professionalism that employs procedural justice to enhance interviewing expertise and police legitimacy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of the Institute of Justice and International Studies
Early online date2013
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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