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Interviewing rape complainants: Police officers' perceptions of interview format and quality of evidence


  • The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the New Zealand Police.


This study explored police perceptions of video recording rape complainant interviews for investigative and evidential purposes. Officers (N = 136) rated the accuracy of one of three mock transcripts of a rape complainant video interview: A ‘standard interview’ containing inappropriately closed and leading questions; a ‘structured interview’ with open and appropriately closed questions and a ‘cognitive interview’ (CI) containing the CI mnemonics. Officers' in the standard condition rated the complainant as less accurate and that they were less likely to proceed with charges than in the structured and CI conditions. Officers cited the main advantages of video interviewing as improved forensic quality and interviewing practices, and the ability to use the interview as good evidence. Officers' rated the ideal characteristics of the complainant's video interview similarly when used for investigative compared to evidential purposes. These findings suggest video recording complainant interviews may be one way of improving quality resolutions in rape cases. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.