In some countries, people may be convicted solely on the basis of their confession, although
in North America, a confession usually has to be backed up by some other form of evidence
People who confess to a crime are more likely to be prosecuted and convicted
The goals of a police interrogation
1. gain information that furthers the investigation (the location of evidence)
2. to obtain a confession
Mid-twentieth century whipping was occasionally used to obtain confessions- now replaced
with more subtle, psychologically based interrogation techniques, such as lying about
evidence, promising lenient treatment, and implying threats to loved ones
Depending on where this training is provided, different approaches are taught.
England and Wales are trained to use interrogation techniques that are far less coercive
The Reid Model of Interrogation
The most common interrogation training program offered to North American police officers that
describe the Reid model of interrogation
based on the idea that suspects do not confess to crimes they have committed because
they fear the potential consequences that await them if they do
The Reid model consists of a three-part process.
1. gather evidence related to the crime and to interview witnesses and victims.
2. conduct a nonaccusatorial interview of the suspect to assess any evidence of deception
3. conduct an accusatorial interrogation of the suspect in which a nine-step procedure is
implemented, with the primary objective being to secure a confession
Consists of the following steps:
1. The suspect is immediately confronted with their guilt.
2. Themes are developed that let the suspect to justify, rationalize, or excuse the crime.
3. The interrogator interrupts any statements of denial by the suspect to ensure the
suspect does not get the upper hand in the interrogation.
4. The interrogator overcomes the suspect's objections to the charges to a point at which
the suspect becomes quiet and withdrawn.
5. The interrogator ensures that the suspect does not tune out of the interrogation by
reducing the psychological distance them (by physically moving closer)
6. The interrogator then exhibits sympathy and understandin
7. The suspect is offered face-saving explanations for the crime, which makes self-
incrimination easier to achieve.
8. Once the suspect accepts responsibility (typically by agreeing with one of the face-
saving explanations), the interrogator develops this admission into a full confession.
9. Finally, the interrogator gets the suspect to write and sign a full confession.
other suggestions for how to effectively interrogate suspects include things such as using a
plainly decorated interrogation room to avoid distractions, having the evidence folder in your
hand when beginning the interrogation, and making sure that the suspect is alone in the
interrogation suite prior to the interrogator entering the room
Techniques used in the Reid model of interrogation can be broken down into two general
Minimization techniques: refer to "soft sell" tactics used by police interrogators that are
designed to "lull the suspect into a false sense of security"
include the use of sympathy, excuses, and justifications.
Maximization techniques: refer to "scare tactics" that interrogators often use "to
intimidate a suspect believed to be guilty" Studies indicate that many of the techniques are used in actual police interrogations, although
the frequency of use varied across techniques.
Almost always used techniques such as isolating suspects from friends and family and
trying to establish rapport with suspects to gain their trust.
Less frequently used techniques included confronting suspects with their guilt and
appealing to their self-interest.
Even less common but sometimes used, were providing justifications for the crime and
implying or pretending to have evidence.
Very rare were instances of threatening the suspect with consequences for not
cooperating and physically intimidating the suspect.
Canadian interrogators do not strictly adhere to the core components of the Reid model but
some of the guidelines were regularly observed.
more confessions were obtained when interrogations used more of the Reid techniques.
Three potential problems with the Reid model of interrogation
The first two relate to the ability of investigators to detect deception and to the biases that
may result when an interrogator believes, perhaps incorrectly, that a suspect is guilty
The third problem has to do with the coercive nature of certain interrogation practices,
Deception detection: Detecting when someone is being deceptive
little research is available to suggest that police officers, or anyone else, can detect
deception with any degree of accuracy- even after receiving specialized training
some recent exceptions to this in Canada, where certain training programs have been
shown to increase lie detection accuracy
procedural safeguards are in place to protect an individual during the transition to the
interrogation phase of the Reid model
only when suspects knowingly and voluntarily waive these rights that their statements
can be used as evidence against them
There types of rights may not provide the protection that they are assumed to provide
because many individuals do not understand their rights
participants had difficulty understanding each of the cautions, particularly certain
elements, but presenting the cautions in written format, one element at a time,
allowed for a greater degree of comprehension.
self-reported confidence was not a good predictor of participant's comprehension
Investigator bias: Bias that can result when police officers enter an interrogation setting
already believing that the suspect is guilty
people unknowingly seek out and interpret information in that situation in a way that
verifies their initial belief.
mock interrogation study, where interrogators were led to believe if suspect was guilty or
innocent- important results were found
1. Interrogators with guilty expectations asked more questions that indicated their
belief in the suspect's guilt.
2. Interrogators with guilty expectations used a higher frequency of interrogation
techniques compared with interrogators with innocent expectations, especially at the
outset of the interrogation.
3. Interrogators with guilty expectations judged more suspects to be guilty, regardless
of whether the suspect was actually guilty.
4. Interrogators indicated that they exerted more pressure on suspects to confess
when, unbeknownst to them, the suspect was innocent.
5. Suspects had fairly accurate perceptions of interrogator behaviour 6. Neutral observers viewed interrogators with guilty expectations as more coercive,
especially against innocent suspects, and they viewed suspects in the guilty
expectation condition as more defensive.
Interrogation Practices and the Courts
Within North America, the key issues a judge must consider when faced with a questionable
confession are whether the confession was made voluntarily and whether the defendant was
competent when he or she provided the confession
A confession is typically excluded if there was overt forms of coercion
elicited by brute force; prolonged isolation; deprivation of food or sleep; threats of harm or
punishment; promises of immunity or leniency; or, barring exceptional circumstances,
without notifying the suspect of his or her constitutional rights"
more subtle forms of psychological coercion are regularly admitted into court, as seen with R.
v. Oickle - but limits are set seen with R. V. Hoilett.
An Alternative to the Reid Model
England and Wales,- use the PEACE model (Planning and preparation, Engage and explain,
Account, Closure, and Evaluation) to guide their interrogations (now called investigative
model provides an inquisitorial framework within which to conduct police interrogations
(compared with the accusatorial framework used in the Reid model)
based on an interview method known as conversation management, which encourages
information gathering more than securing a confession.
some research indicates that a decrease in the use of coercive interrogation tactics does not
necessarily result in a substantial reduction in the number of confessions that can be obtained
Research indicates that when people have been wrongfully convicted of a crime, a false
confession is often to blame.
Retracted confession: An individual declaring that the confession he or she made is false
Disputed confessions: confessions that are disputed at trial, which does not necessarily
mean the confession is false or that it was retracted.
may arise because of legal technicalities, or because the suspect disputes the confession
was ever made
False confession: A confession that is either intentionally fabricated or is not based on actual
knowledge of the facts that form its content
Both are often confused with false confessions:
The major problem is that in most cases it is almost impossible to determine whether a
confession is actually false.
Different Types of False Confessions
Most common typology still appears to be the one proposed by Kassin and Wrightsman which
states that false confessions consist of
1. Voluntary false confessions: when someone voluntarily confesses to a crime he or she
did not commit without any elicitation from the police.
voluntarily false confess for a variety of reasons.
(1) a morbid desire for notoriety,
(2) the person being unable to distinguish fact from fantasy,
(3) the need to make up for pathological feelings of guilt by receiving punishment,
(4) a desire to protect somebody else from harm (particularly prevalent with juveniles). highly publicized cases do occasionally result in voluntary false confessions most
famously with the case of Charles Lindbergh's baby son.
2. Coerced-compliant false confessions: the suspect confesses to a crime, even though the
suspect is fully aware that he or she did not commit it.- MOST COMMOM
caused by the use of coercive interrogation tactics on the part of the police, such as the
maximization techniques described earlier.
Coerced-compliant false confessions for a variety of reasons
(1) escape further interrogation,
(2) gain a promised benefit,
(3) avoid a threatened punishment
3. Coerced-internalized false confessions: individuals recall and confess to a crime they did
not commit, because they end up believing they are responsible for the crime.
usually after they are exposed to highly suggestible questions, such as the minimization
several vulnerability factors are associated with this type of false confession
(1) a history of substance abuse or some other interference with brain function,
(2) the inability of people to detect discrepancies between what they observed and
what has been erroneously suggested to them,
(3) factors associated with mental state, such as severe anxiety or feelings of guilt.
Studying False Confessions in the Lab
researchers have attempted to develop innovative laboratory paradigms that allow them to
study the processes that may cause false confessions to occur without putting their
participants at risk.
Confabulation: The reporting of events that never actually occurred
Kassin and Kiechel -tested whether individuals would confess to a crime they didn’t commit.
many participants accepted responsibility for the crime despite the fact that they were
innocent, particularly the vulnerable participants presented with false evidence.
many participants also internalized their confession which was especially true for
vulnerable participants presented with false evidence.
Vulnerable participants presented with false evidence were found to be particularly
susceptible to confabulation.
Hard to generalize because (1) participants had nothing to lose if they couldn't convince others
of their innocence (2) all participants were actually innocent of the crime (3) participants could
have easily been confused about their guilt
Russano et al. asked participants to do a computer tack where some were setup to fail
Guilty participants were much more likely to confess
participants who were offered a deal were more likely to confess -This was the case for
both guilty and innocent suspects
participants were more likely to confess when minimization tactics were used- this was
the case for both guilty and innocent participants
The largest increase in confession rates occurred when both minimization and deals were
Recent studies have shown that jurors might be likely to convict a suspect based on
confession evidence even when the jurors are aware that the suspect's confession resulted
from a coercive interrogation.
less commonly recognized, consequence for the police and, therefore, the public
the police are diverted down a false trail that may waste valuable time that they could
have used to identify and apprehend the real offender. CRIMINAL PROFILING
Criminal profiling: a technique for identifying the major personality and behavioural
characteristics of an individual based upon an analysis of the crimes he or she has committed
most commonly used in cases of serial homicide and most applicable in cases in which
extreme forms of psychopathology are exhibited by the offender
originally intended to help the police identify the criminal, either by narrowing down a list of
suspects or by providing new lines of inquiry.
now it is often used for
To help set traps to flush out an offender
To determine whether a threatening note should be taken seriously
To give advice on how best to interrogate a suspect
To tell prosecutors how to break down defendants in crossexamination
most common personality and behavioural characteristics that profilers try to predict include
the offender's age, sex, race, level of intelligence, educational history, hobbies, family
background, residential location, criminal history, employment status, psychosexual
development, and post-offence behaviour
the majority of profilers are experienced and specially trained law enforcement officers
Early Attempts at Criminal Profiling
1888- Jack the Ripper
1940- New York City's Mad Bomber
1970s- development of a criminal profiling program at the FBI
1972 - National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime opened for conducting research in the
area of criminal profiling and providing formal guidance to police agencies around the United
States that were investigating serial crimes, serial murder in particular.
VlCLAS: The Violent Crime Linkage Analysis System, which was developed by the RCMP to
collect and analyze information on serious crimes from across Canada
Linkage blindness: An inability on the part of the police to link geographically dispersed serial
crimes committed by the same offender because of a lack of information sharing among police
Different Types of Profiling Methods
process of profiling as an equation in the form: WHAT + WHY = WHO.
WHAT of the crime refers to the material that profilers collect
WHY of the crime refers to the motivation for the crime and each crime scene behaviour.
WHO of the crime refers to the actual profile that is eventually constructed
Profilers can use two approaches: the deductive profiling method and the inductive profiling
Deductive criminal profiling: the prediction of an offender's back- ground characteristics
generated from a thorough analysis of the evidence left at the crime scenes
This method largely relies on logical reasoning
primary disadvantage of this profiling method is that the underlying logic of the
argument can sometimes be faulty.
Inductive criminal profiling: involves the prediction of an offender's background
characteristics generated from a comparison of that particular offender's crimes with
similar crimes committed by other, known offenders.
relies largely on a determination of how likely it is an offender will possess certain
background characteristics given the prevalence of them among other known
offenders who have committed similar crimes. The key problem is that it will never be possible to have a representative sample of
serial offenders from which to draw profiling conclusions.
Many profilers today use an inductive profiling approach (organized- disorganized model)
developed by the FBI through interviews with incarcerated offenders
the FBI has refined this model to account for the many offenders who display mixtures of
organized and disorganized features
The Validity of Criminal Profiling
that police officers hold generally positive (although somewhat cautious) views of profiling
police officers know the limitations- indicating that it shouldn't be used as evidence in court,
that it shouldn't be used for all types of crimes, and that it does have the potential to seriously
mislead an investigation.
Three criticisms in particular have received attention from researchers:
1. Many forms of profiling are based on a theoretical model of personality that lacks strong
rely on a classic trait model: that says the primary determinants of behaviour are
stable, internal traits.
These traits are assumed to result in the expression of consistent patterns
ofbehaviour over time and across situations.
2. Many profiles contain information that is vague/ ambiguous they may fit many suspects.
There is support for this criticism but other result suggests that in certain
jurisdictions at least this potential problem may be waning.
3. Professional profilers may be no better than untrained individuals at constructing
accurate criminal profiles.
professional profilers were the most accurate when it came to profiling cognitive
processes (degree of planning) and social history (marital status).
psychologists were the most accurate when it came to profiling physical
characteristics (offender age), offence behaviours (degree of control), and
personality features (temperament).
combined score of the nonprofiler groups was lower than the profilers
Geographic profiling: An investigative technique that uses crime scene locations to predict the
most likely area where an offender resides
also consider other factors that may affect an offender's spatial behaviour, such as the density
of suitable victims in an area
The basic assumption is- most serial offenders do not travel far from home to commit crimes
used primarily for prioritizing potential suspects.
One of the first cases in which geographic profiling techniques were used was the case of the
Yorkshire Ripper in England.
Geographic profiling systems: Computer systems that use mathematical models of offender
spatial behaviour to make predictions about where unknown serial offenders are likely to live
Every single location on the map is assigned an overall probability and these probabilities
are designated a colour.
People wonder if geographic profiling systems are necessary
study found that before any training, approximately 50% of participants made predictions
that were as accurate as a computerized system about weather serial offenders will live
close to the locations of the majority of their crimes.
After training, there was no difference between the average accuracy of the partici