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PSYC 3020 Lecture Notes - Full Confession, Offender Profiling, Serial Killer

Course Code
PSYC 3020
Dan Yarmey

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Unit 4: Police Procedures
-examine profiling of criminal suspects, detection of deception and “lie detection”
through the use of the polygraph, confessions, hypnosis, interrogation and interview
Profiling of Criminal Suspects
-in some types of crimes, certain personality characteristics and behavioural tendencies
may be revealed by psychological analyses
-criminal profiling is done for crimes involving drug couriers, hijackers, illegal aliens, and
-the FBIs Behavioural Science Unit and other police forces have developed and used
psychological profiles of criminal suspects since the 1970s
-legal authorities have determined how these offenders typically select and approach
victims, the perpetrators’ reactions to these crimes, their personality make-up, family
background and demographic characteristics
Read Textbook Chapter 3 pg. 56-88
Chapter 3: The Psychology of Police Investigations
-psychologists have identified a number of key investigative tasks where psychology is
particularly relevant
-one of these relates to the collection and evaluation of investigative information that is
often obtained from suspects
-another relates to investigative decision making, especially requiring an in-depth un-
derstanding of criminal behaviour
Police Interrogations
-confession evidence is often viewed as “a prosecutor’s most potent weapon” and po-
lice officers will often go to great lengths to secure such evidence
-in North America, a confession usually has to be backed up by some other form of evi-

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Police Interrogation - a process whereby the police interview a suspect for the purpose
of gathering evidence and obtaining a confession
-being interrogated by the police for the purpose of extracting a confession is often con-
sidered to be inherently coercive
-the police interrogators are part of a system that gives them certain powers over you
-in the mid-twentieth century, whipping was occasionally used to obtain confessions
-in the 1980s, the police jolted a suspect with a stun gun to extract a confession
-more subtle, psychologically based interrogation techniques are used now such as ly-
ing about evidence, promising lenient treatment, and implying threats to loved ones
-police officers sometimes view these techniques as a necessary evil to obtain confes-
sions from guilty persons
-because offenders are typically reluctant to confess, they must often be tricked into it
-the Mr. Big technique is a noncustodial procedure that happens outside of the interro-
gation room, it involves undercover police officers who pose as members of a criminal
organization and attempt to lure the suspect into the gang, the suspect is made to com-
mit minor crimes and then confesses them at what they think is a job interview with “Mr.
-not used as frequently as the Reid model but is used often
-the Mr. Big technique results in a 75% success rate and a 95% conviction rate
-this technique raises some ethical and legal question
-does it boil down to entrapment, where a person is induced to commit an illegal act
they otherwise would not commit?
-the answer is no because it is designed to elicit a confession regarding an event that
occurred before the operation started
-this technique has been approved by the Canadian courts, which seem to view the
“Mr. Big technique as a reasonable use of police trickery that would not bring the admin-
istration of justice into disrepute”
-psychological research that has examined coercive interrogation has raised concerns
The Reid Model of Interrogation
-police officers in England and Wales are trained to use interrogation techniques that
are far less coercive because they recognize some of the potential problems associated
with coercive interrogation practices such as false confession
-the most common interrogation training program offered in North American police offi-
cers is based on a book called Criminal Interrogation and Confessions, it includes the
Reid Model

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Reid Model - a nine-step model of interrogation used frequently in North America to ex-
tract confessions from suspects
-consists of a 3-part process:
-Stage 1: gather evidence related to the crime and to interview witnesses and victims
-Stage 2: conduct a nonaccusatorial interview of the suspect to assess any evidence of
-Stage 3: conduct an accusatorial interrogation of the suspect (if he or she is perceived
to be guilty) in which a nine-step procedure is implemented with the primary objective
being to secure a confession, the 9 steps are:
1. Suspect is confronted with their guilt. If the police do not have any evidence, the inter-
rogator can, if necessary, pretend that such evidence exists.
2. Psychological themes are developed that allow the suspect to justify, rationalize, or
excuse the crime. e.g. saying the victim was asking for it
3. Interrogator interrupts any statements of denial by the suspect to ensure they suspect
does not get the upper hand.
4. Interrogator overcomes the suspects objections to the charges to a point at which the
suspect becomes quiet and withdrawn.
5. Interrogator ensures that the subject does not tune out of the interrogation by reduc-
ing the psychological distance between the interrogator and the suspect e.g. physically
moving closer to the suspect
6. Interrogator exhibits sympathy and understanding, and the suspect is urged to come
clean. e.g. appeal to the suspect’s sense of decency
7. Suspect is offered face-saving explanations for the crime, which makes self-incrimina-
tion easier to achieve.
8. Once the suspect accepts responsibility, the interrogator develops this admission into
a full confession.
9. Interrogator gets the suspect to write and sign a full confession.
-other suggestions include used a plainly decorated interrogation room to avoid distrac-
tions, having the evidence folder in your hand when beginning the interrogation and
making sure the suspect is alone in the interrogation suite prior to entering the room
-the Reid model is based on the idea that suspects do not confess to crimes they have
committed because they fear the potential consequences that await them
-the fear is not sufficiently outweighed by their internal feelings of anxiety associated
with remaining deceptive
-the goal is to reverse this state of affairs, by making the consequences of confessing
more desirable than the anxiety related to the deception
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