Communication and rapport building during investigative interviews with internet child sex offenders
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Communication and rapport building during investigative interviews with internet child sex offenders Dr Kimberly Collins, School of Social Sciences and Law, Teesside University, UK Detective Chief Inspector Alison Eaton, Sussex Police, UK. Interpersonal rapport.

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Aim: to examine the impact of interpersonal rapport on communication in interviews with child internet sex offenders.

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Aim to examine the impact of interpersonal rapport on communication in interviews with child internet sex offenders

Communication and rapport building during investigative interviews with internet child sex offendersDr Kimberly Collins, School of Social Sciences and Law, Teesside University, UKDetective Chief Inspector Alison Eaton, Sussex Police, UK


Aim to examine the impact of interpersonal rapport on communication in interviews with child internet sex offenders

Interpersonal rapport

  • Aim: to examine the impact of interpersonal rapport on communication in interviews with child internet sex offenders.

  • Focus is on interpersonal rapport NOT the engage and explain phase of the PEACE model which is typically associated with rapport.

  • Interpersonal rapport indicators based on the psychological and behaviour literature.

  • Rapport should be evident throughout the interview (Walsh & Bull, 2012).

  • So, does interpersonal rapport affect the amount of information given? What particular parts of rapport behaviour are most evident in these interviews and affect communication the most?


Aim to examine the impact of interpersonal rapport on communication in interviews with child internet sex offenders

Why internet child sex offenders?

  • Met at iIIRG asked to collaborate on this project based on the officer’s expertise.

  • Personal experience indicated that interpersonal rapport produced benefits. Did this occur across interviews/interviewers?

  • These offenders frequently minimize & distort the nature & severity of these crimes (Ward et al., 1997).

  • Stigma so more likely to deny involvement (Quinn et al., 2004).

  • At times, interviewers hold more negative attitudes towards these offenders and find these interviews difficult (e.g. Holmberg &Christianson, 2002; Soukara et al., 2007).

  • A proportion of these offenders have intimacy and social skills deficits. Therefore find it more difficult to communicate? (Ward & Siegert, 2002).


Aim to examine the impact of interpersonal rapport on communication in interviews with child internet sex offenders

Previous research on rapport

  • Rapport is one of the highest rated interview approaches by police officers (Cherryman & Bull, 1996: Kassin, 2007).

  • ‘Rapport is at the heart of the interview’ (St Yves, 2006).

  • Numerous studies have claimed to have found that rapport has many benefits (Vallano & Compo, 2011; Vanderhallen , 2011; Walsh & Bull, 2012). Findings include:

    • Rapport leads to more accurate information.

    • Rapport acts as a buffer to misinformation effects.

    • More difficult to achieve rapport with suspects.

    • Working alliance related to respect, empathy, and interview clarity.

  • But there are several issues with these claims:

    • Based on self reports so not necessarily valid.

    • Inclusion of a rapport phase does not mean that rapport was actually evident. This needs to be measured. So how rapport affects communication has not been appropriately investigated.

    • Rapport not considered throughout the interview.


Aim to examine the impact of interpersonal rapport on communication in interviews with child internet sex offenders

What is interpersonal rapport?

Rapport has 3 components (Tickle-Degnen & Rosenthal, 1990):

Positivity

Attention

Coordination


Aim to examine the impact of interpersonal rapport on communication in interviews with child internet sex offenders

Late

Early

Timing of interpersonal rapport

Attention

Positivity

Coordination

Importance for Rapport

  • This model is based on everyday interactions e.g. conversations.

  • Would this differ in an interview context?

  • Would this differ dependent upon who was being interviewed?


Aim to examine the impact of interpersonal rapport on communication in interviews with child internet sex offenders

Investigative interview context

  • The purpose of this context is to obtain information. Often deals with non-cooperative individuals who gain from non-compliance.

  • The theory of social influence must be considered (Abbe & Brandon, 2012).

  • Three types of social influence: interest based, relationship based and identity based (for a full description see Abbe & Brandon, 2012).

  • Based on consultation with the officer providing the interviews and observation of the interviews we decided that identity based was used in the interviews with child internet sex offenders from this police force.

  • The nature of the three rapport components may differ according to the type of influence (Abbe & Brandon, 2012).


Aim to examine the impact of interpersonal rapport on communication in interviews with child internet sex offenders

Interpersonal rapport

  • Positivity: respect both ways, positive initial contact, open mindedness, empathy, humour.

  • Attention: back channel responses, acknowledgements, paraphrasing, identifying emotions.

  • Coordination: agreement.

  • Shared understanding: common mental model of the situation. Explain roles and purpose, expectations and goals.

  • Questions:

    • Are these rapport behaviours related to investigation relevant information?

    • Which rapport behaviours result in the most information?

    • Does the rapport ‘timing model’ apply to these interviews?

    • Which of these rapport indicators are used most frequently by the officers?


Aim to examine the impact of interpersonal rapport on communication in interviews with child internet sex offenders

Method

  • UK police force (England & Wales) granted access to 30 interview transcripts.

  • Closed cases. Suspects arrested based on the possession and distribution of indecent images of children using computers.

  • All officers at least Tier 2 PEACE trained.

  • 11 Had solicitors present and 0 had appropriate adults, intermediaries and interpreters present.

  • First interviews in the investigation.

  • All male suspects. 11 Male interviewers and 3 Female interviewers.

  • Interviews conducted 2008 to 2011

  • Coders quantified the presence of each of the rapport indicators and the amount of investigation relevant information.


Aim to examine the impact of interpersonal rapport on communication in interviews with child internet sex offenders

Examples

When suspect refuses access to free, legal advice: “okay if you change your mind at any time (name of suspect) tell me and I will get it organized for you. Its not a problem at all”.

Positivity

“uh-huh” “yeah” “I understand” “so you said you got the computer at Dixons, mmm hmm…”

Attention

Coordination

“yeah, I know”

“anything you say can be given in evidence, things which go in your benefit, for example reasons why you’ve done stuff, so anything that is said can be given in evidence for you or against you”.

Shared understanding


Aim to examine the impact of interpersonal rapport on communication in interviews with child internet sex offenders

Findings - positivity

  • Positivity was very strongly related to the amount of information given.

  • More positive at the beginning, and this significantly reduces in the middle and end of the interviews.

  • First impressions count.

  • Is info less pleasing as the interview progresses?

  • Perhaps positivity lends itself better to the beginning?

  • But as it was found to relate to IRI then perhaps more positivity should be provided throughout?

Mean positivity = 47


Aim to examine the impact of interpersonal rapport on communication in interviews with child internet sex offenders

Findings - attention

  • Attention related to IRI.

  • Typical model is that attention is equal throughout but it increases in these interviews.

  • Suspects talk more in the mid and end parts of the interview.

  • More IRI given as interview progresses therefore interviewers will attend more at these points.

  • Interviewer tends to do most of the talking initially and this may have reduced verbal attention. This is understandable.

Mean attention = 138


Aim to examine the impact of interpersonal rapport on communication in interviews with child internet sex offenders

Findings - coordination

  • Coordination related to IRI.

  • Typical model tells us that coordination should increase due to familiarity.

  • It goes in the opposite direction for these interviews. May be more familiar through time but the dynamic of these interviews doesn’t match symmetry. In ‘good’ interviews the suspect should dominate the communication and therefore symmetry would be less.

Mean coordination = 62


Aim to examine the impact of interpersonal rapport on communication in interviews with child internet sex offenders

Findings – shared understanding

  • Shared understanding related to IRI.

  • Goes down because the majority of the goals are explained at the beginning of the interview.

  • This helps the suspect cognitively understand what is expected of them. Good practice.

  • Maybe it should be returned to throughout the interview as well?

Mean shared understanding = 46


Aim to examine the impact of interpersonal rapport on communication in interviews with child internet sex offenders

Rapport indicators together

  • Attention used the most. Natural for interview context.

  • More rapport at beginning due to first impressions?

  • All four should be maintained and slightly increased to improve communication??


Aim to examine the impact of interpersonal rapport on communication in interviews with child internet sex offenders

Practical implications

  • Positive reflection of the quality of interviews conducted. Means demonstrate a high instance of rapport indicators.

  • The rapport behaviours did relate to increased information.

  • Positivity perhaps very important as it reduces the stigma associated with this type of offence and encourages suspects to be cooperative?

  • The pattern of rapport components does differ dependent upon context.

  • Attention used most frequently. Perhaps this is easier to maintain in this context?

  • Officers should be taught the importance of establishing rapport and continuing this throughout the interview. This may have even greater benefits for the communication.


Aim to examine the impact of interpersonal rapport on communication in interviews with child internet sex offenders

What’s next?

  • Gaining access to more interviews.

  • Confirm type of social influence.

  • Find out which behaviours where most evident for each component, i.e. did positivity mostly consist of empathy etc?

  • Which of these had the greatest impact on the IRI?

  • Will look at the suspect’s responsivity to each component.

  • Look at other interviews from the same investigations. Does the pattern change as the investigation progresses?

  • Compare different crime types and interviewees.


Aim to examine the impact of interpersonal rapport on communication in interviews with child internet sex offenders

References

  • Abbe, A., & Brandon, S.E. (2012). The role of rapport in investigative interviewing: A review. Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling, (accessed online with no page numbers or volume number available).

  • Cherryman, J., & Bull, R. (1996). Investigative interviewing. In F. Leishman, B. Loveday and S. Savage (Eds.) Core issues in policing. London: Heinemann.

  • Holmberg, U., & Christianson, S. (2002). Murderers’ and sexual offenders experiences of police interviews and their inclination to admit or deny crimes. Behavioral Sciences & the Law, 20, 31-45.

  • Kassin, S.M. et al. (2007). Police interviewing and interrogation: A self-report survey of police practices and beliefs. Law and Human Behavior, 31, 381-400.

  • Quinn, J.F., Forsyth, C.J., & Mullen-Quinn, C. (2004). Societal reaction to sex offenders: A review of the origins and results of the myth surrounding their crimes and treatment amenability. Deviant Behavior, 25, 215-232.

  • Soukara, S., Bull, R., & Vrij, A. (2002). Police detectives’ aims regarding their interviews with suspects: Any change at the turn of the millennium? International Journal of Police Science and Management, 4, 101114.

  • St Yves, M. (2006). Psychology of rapport: Five basic rules. In T. Williamson (Ed.) Investigative interviewing: Rights ,research and regulation. Portland, OR: Willan.


Aim to examine the impact of interpersonal rapport on communication in interviews with child internet sex offenders

References

  • Tickle-Degnen, L., & Rosenthal, R. (1990). The nature of rapport and its nonverbal correlates. Psychological Inquiry, 1, 285-293.

  • Vallano, J.P., & Compo, N. S. (2011). A comfortable witness is a good witness: Rapport building and susceptibility to misinformation in an investigative mock-crime interview, Applied Cognitive Psychology, 25, 960-970.

  • Vanderhallen, M., Vervaeke, G., & Holmberg, U. (2011). Witness and suspect perceptions of working alliance and interviewing style. Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling, 8, 110-130.

  • Walsh, D., & Bull, R. (2012). Examining rapport in investigative interviews with suspects: Does its building and maintenance work? Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology, 27, 73-84.

  • Ward, T., Hudson, S.M., Johnson, L., & Marshall, W.L. (1997). Cognitive distortions in sex offenders: An integrative review. Clinical Psychology Review, 17, 479-507.

  • Ward, T., & Siegert, R.J. (2002). Towards a comprehensive theory of child sexual abuse: a theory knitting perspective, Psychology, Crime and Law, 8, 319-51


Aim to examine the impact of interpersonal rapport on communication in interviews with child internet sex offenders

Thank you. Any questions?

[email protected]


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