Is confession really necessary? The use of effective interviewing techniques to maximize disclosure from suspects




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Academic Press


Book chapter

Peer reviewed



Interviews with suspects of crime are an important element of police investigations. They can be crucial in helping establish what happened and may well provide evidence that enables the resolution of the criminal investigation. If the police gain admissions from suspects of wrongdoing this might, on the face of it, reinforce the belief that they were right to suspect them. However, a reliance on confessions as the single or major influence in determining guilt has been found to be mis-placed. Several countries (e.g., Norway, USA, and the UK) report cases where confessions have been made to the police, and people have been convicted of crimes, only to find later that those convictions have to be overturned in light of new evidence (including that which led to the conviction of the actual perpetrator). Such events have led us to rightly question the purpose of police interrogations with suspects. They have also prompted inquiry as to whether the pursuit of confessions in such interviews is appropriate and whether the police’s role is to search for the truth, including that where the outcome of the investigation may well suggest that a person is innocent. In this chapter, we examine once such country (England and Wales), where interrogations with suspects were once viewed primarily as opportunities to gain confessions from suspects. We detail an approach, investigative interviewing, that has led to such confessions being considered as less important to the resolution of criminal investigations, and where miscarriages of justice caused by unethical and coercive interviewing techniques (known to elicit false confessions) to be almost consigned to history (Poyser, Nurse & Milne, 2018).



investigative interviewing,, false confessions, interrogations, policing, PEACE model


Walsh, D., and Marques, P.B. (2022). Is confession really necessary? The use of effective interviewing techniques to maximize disclosure from suspects. In: P.B. Marques and M. Paulino Eds) Police Psychology, pp. 357-380


Research Institute

Centre for Law, Justice and Society