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Human rights is not enough: The need for demonstrating efficacy of an ethical approach to interviewing in India


Correspondence should be addressed to Prof. Laurence Alison, Centre for Critical Incident Research, School of Psychology, University of Liverpool, Bedford Street South, Liverpool, L69 7ZA, UK (e-mail:


Purpose. The present study compared attitudes about Human Rights (HR) and the advocation of coercive interviewing practices amongst Indian Police Officers, Offenders and a sample from the General Public.

Method. 100 Police Officers, 50 Offenders and 50 members of the General Public completed a questionnaire that assessed their attitudes about the Human Rights of suspects and the use of coercion in suspect interviews.

Results. Police Officers and the Public accepted both custodial violence and the use of intimidating interrogation strategies more readily than Offenders. They were also more prepared to suspend Suspects' Human Rights. Further, individuals who scored high on a coercive belief scale (CBS) were particularly inclined to favour custodial violence and suspend Human Rights. In addition, the self-reported frequency with which Police Officers used intimidating and non-intimidating interviewing techniques was related to their beliefs about Suspects' Human Rights and the extent to which they perceived intimidating interviewing methods to be useful.

Conclusion. Attitudes about effective interviewing strategies may well be embedded within a broad social context. The effectiveness of a Human Rights Agenda requires that officers in India are informed of the effectiveness of ethical interviewing standards and the practical and legal dangers of using inappropriate methods.