An exploration of police officers’ experiences of the interview process when working with vulnerable and/or intimidated adult witnesses

Research Institution / Organisation

University of Portsmouth

Principal Researcher

Juliet Wilkes

Level of Research

Masters

Project Start Date

January 2021

Research Context

​Interviewing vulnerable and/or intimidated adult witnesses is an important aspect of policing, allowing for the elicitation of key information vital to a criminal case. However it can be a challenging task and the needs of the witness must be carefully considered. The Achieving Best Evidence (ABE) protocol provides police officers with an official framework for the interview process with vulnerable and or intimidated adult witnesses (Home Office, 2011). This includes guidance for pre-interview planning and preparation, how to conduct the interview and post-interview witness support. Previous research has found that ABE guidelines are not routinely followed. However ABE guidelines are predominately based on research with children, which raises the question of their applicability to adult witnesses. While research has looked at police officers’ personal views and experiences of conducting interviews with children, there is little exploration of officers’ personal views of the interview process when working with vulnerable and/or intimidated adult witnesses.

The main aim of this study is to gain an understanding, from the perspective of police officers, of their experiences of the interview process when working with vulnerable and/or intimidated adult witnesses. By conducting this research we hope to gain insight into the challenges police officers face, their perceptions of using ABE guidance and how these affect the way they work with adult witnesses.

Research Methodology

​This research looks to recruit 6-8 ABE trained police officers who work with vulnerable and/or intimidated adult witnesses. To gain insights into their experiences, online semi-structured interviews, lasting from 20-40 minutes will be used. For data analysis, Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) will be used.

Date due for completion

September 2021
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