Are newly recruited police officers blank slates? An examination of the 'natural' interviewing skills of untrained recruits in Western Australia
Australasian Institute of Policing
Faculty of Business and Law
School of Law and Justice / Sellenger Centre for Research in Law, Justice and Social Change
The PEACE model of investigative interviewing has been widely adopted both internationally and within Australia since its inception in the United Kingdom in the early 1990s. PEACE is a mnemonic for the five stages of the interview process: Preparation and planning; Engage and explain; Account, clarification and challenge (Account); Closure; and Evaluation. Thus far, research examining the use of the PEACE model has predominantly evaluated experienced police officers’ use of the model in practice. The present study is unique in that it explored the ‘natural’ interviewing skills of 43 newly recruited police officers (i.e., untrained recruits) with reference to the five stages of the PEACE model. University students acted as witnesses who watched a short video recording of a mock assault before being individually interviewed by one of the recruits. The recruits were given the opportunity to prepare written plans before the interview and completed written self-evaluations after the interview. Analyses revealed that the recruits largely neglected the Preparation and planning stage, and when planning occurred, it predominantly focused on the Account stage of the model. With regard to the interview itself, the recruits again focused on the Account stage while neglecting the Engage and explain and Closure stages of the model. Finally, the recruits’ self-evaluations noted deficiencies particularly with respect to the Engage and explain stage, demonstrating some insight into the importance of this stage of the model. Overall, it appears that the recruits found the Account stage to be the most natural, suggesting that particular attention needs to be given to the other stages of the PEACE model during interview training.