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The Reid Technique of interviewing and interrogation involves three different components -- factual analysis, interviewing, and interrogation. While each of these are separate and distinct procedures, they are interrelated in the sense that each serves to help eliminate innocent suspects during an investigation, thereby allowing the investigator to focus on the person most likely to be guilty and to interrogate that individual in an effort to learn the truth. Supporters argue the technique is useful in extracting information from otherwise unwilling suspects, while critics have charged the technique can elicit false confessions from innocent persons.
The term "Reid technique" is a registered trademark of the firm John E. Reid and Associates, which offers training courses in the method. The technique is widely used by law-enforcement agencies in North America.
Both an interview as well as an interrogation are facilitated by analysis of investigative findings. Proper factual analysis assists the investigator in the following ways:
- Eliminate improbable suspects
- Develop possible suspects or leads
- Increase confidence in identifying truthful or guilty suspects through the interview process
- Identify proper interrogational strategies
The Behavior Analysis Interview
The word "interview" refers to a non-accusatory question and answer session with a witness, victim or a suspect. In addition to standard investigative questions, structured "behavior provoking" questions are asked to elicit behavior symptoms of truth or deception from the person being interviewed. This structured procedure is referred to as a Behavior Analysis Interview or BAI.
Interrogation, on the other hand, is an accusatory process -- accusatory only in the sense that the investigator tells the suspect that there is no doubt as to his guilt. The interrogation is in the form of a monologue presented by the investigator, rather than a question and answer format. The actual demeanor of the investigator during the course of an interrogation is understanding, patient, and non-demeaning.
The Reid Nine Steps of Interrogation
The form of the interrogation is built around active persuasion by moral justification. The interrogator presents a monologue and discourages the suspect from denials or explanations. The interrogator progresses the suspect towards an admission by the use of alternative or contrasting questions, offering the suspect two choices, one of which is less morally challenging than the other. If the suspect acknowledges a choice the interrogation moves to non-leading questions to draw out the full confession. A critical part of the process is the development of information that will corroborate and substantiate the subject’s admission of guilt.
The identification of deceptive behaviors or symptoms in speech or body language are part of the Reid Technique. The use of lies, threats, leading questions or inducements by the interrogator is reported to be widely used but is not an 'officially' sanctioned part of the Reid Technique. (see CBC link below)
- Step 1 - Tell the suspect that there is overwhelming evidence, even witnesses, of their guilt. This may be a lie to force the suspect towards confession.
- Step 2 - Try to shift the blame away from the suspect to some other person or set of circumstances that prompted the suspect to commit the crime. That is, develop themes containing reasons that will justify or excuse the crime. Themes may be developed or changed to find one to which the accused is most responsive.
- Step 3 - Never allow the suspect to deny guilt. Reid training video: "If you’ve let him talk and say the words ‘I didn’t do it’, and the more often a person says ‘I didn’t do it’, the more difficult it is to get a confession." Stopping them talking also stops them asking for a lawyer.
- Step 4 - At this point, the accused will often give a reason why he or she did not or could not commit the crime. Try to use this to move towards the confession.
- Step 5 - Reinforce sincerity to ensure that the suspect is receptive.
- Step 6 - The suspect will become quieter and listen. Move the theme discussion towards offering alternatives. If the suspect cries at this point, infer guilt.
- Step 7 - Pose the “alternative question”, giving two choices for what happened; one more socially acceptable than the other. The suspect is expected to chose the easier option but whichever alternative the suspect chooses, guilt is admitted.
- Step 8 - Lead the suspect to repeat the admission of guilt in front of witnesses.
- Step 9 - Document the suspect's admission and have them sign as a confession.
- John E. Reid and Associates
- CBC News Reid Technique Critique
- Interrogation Transcript
- The full 9 steps with key points
- HowStuffWorks, with lots of detail
- 'Police admit lying to Pickton during interrogation' - newspaper article
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