Date of Award

2016

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Arts and Humanities

First Advisor

Dr Adrian Scott

Second Advisor

Associate Professor Pamela Henry

Third Advisor

Professor Ray Bull

Abstract

The PEACE model of investigative interviewing (Preparation and planning; Engage and explain; Account, clarification, and challenge [Account]; Closure; and Evaluation), has been in operation internationally since the early 1990s when it was introduced in England and Wales. The model is in operation in a number of Australian jurisdictions, including Western Australia (WA), where it was formally incorporated into interview training in 2009. While there have been a number of evaluations of the PEACE model, they have predominantly focused on the interview stages of the model; that is, Engage and explain, Account, and Closure. By comparison, the Preparation and planning and Evaluation stages of the interview process have been neglected. Further, the majority of research has originated in the United Kingdom, with limited international research specifically concerning the PEACE model, rather than interviewing generally. In addition to there being limited research in an Australian context, most research published to date has examined the interviewing of trained police officers. As such, there is a need for research examining the Preparation and planning and Evaluation stages of the PEACE model in an Australian context, with a focus on less experienced police officers.

In the present research, a sample of 37 police recruits (recruits) from the WA Police Academy conducted interviews with witnesses of mock crimes on four occasions during their 26-week recruit training. The first interview was conducted in the second week of recruits’ training; the second interview was conducted following legal and procedural training; the third interview was conducted following interview training; and the final interview was conducted at the conclusion of recruits’ training. On each occasion, recruits were provided with ten minutes to prepare for the interview and given pens and paper to formulate written plans if desired. Following this time of preparation, recruits were shown into interview rooms and conducted interviews with witnesses who had viewed a film depicting a mock crime. Recruits and witnesses completed written evaluations following each interview. The aim of the present research was to examine the interviewing practices of recruits and how these change following specific points in their training at the WA Police Academy. To address the paucity of research on the Preparation and planning and Evaluation stages of the PEACE model, the focus of the present research was to examine these stages in detail. The research presented in this thesis provides an understanding of the content of recruits’ written plans, interviews, and self-evaluations in the context of interviews with witnesses, in addition to understanding how these change following specific points in training. Further, the research provides insight into the impact of plans on interviews, and the impact of self-evaluations on plans and interviews. The first empirical chapter examines recruits’ plans; the second empirical chapter examines the impact of plans on interviews; and the third empirical chapter examines the impact of self-evaluations on plans and interviews.

Findings from the research indicate recruits emphasise the aspects of the interview relating to the account from the witness in their plans and interviews, but that this emphasis diminishes following specific points in training. With regard to the impact of plans on interviews, findings suggest recruits actively cover a high proportion of planned items in interviews and show a positive correlation between planned and covered items in the Engage and explain stage of the interview. Further, following interview training, there are a number of key interview components that are more likely to be covered in interviews when included in plans. These components generally relate to procedural instructions, or those components less obvious or intuitive to the recruit. Recruits were found to include small numbers of items in self-evaluations when asked how they would conduct their interview differently, and these most often related to questioning, procedural, or structural aspects of the interview. Findings showed recruits’ self-evaluations resulted in limited changes in interviewing practices.

The implications of these findings largely relate to the training of recruits. While the impact of plans appeared more substantive than that of self-evaluations, it is suggested that the impact of these practices may be increased if recruits are trained specifically with regard to the use of plans and what to include in them, and how to reflect on their performance and implement feedback. While the PEACE model encourages planning and evaluating by virtue of the inclusion of the Preparation and planning and Evaluation stages, it does not appear recruits are proficient in either practice, and therefore the efficacy of those practices in their present state may be limited.

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