From early adversity to psychological vulnerability during investigative interview:Achieving best evidence in the presence of vulnerability Dr Kim E Drake, PhD CPsychol University of Derby email@example.com
Objectives • To demonstrate how psychological vulnerability, which can manifest during police interview, may develop through the life-span. • In light of psychological evidence, to highlight and discuss aspects of the interview where vulnerability may pose the biggest issue.
Psychological vulnerability during investigative interview • Sensitivity to external pressure can be a serious psychological vulnerability during police interview. • Can manifest in two ways: • interrogative suggestibility • interrogative compliance • Vulnerable behaviour still an issue though: (1) the problem with open questions; (2) the suspect’s perception of interview which is vital Drake, 2010b; Gudjonsson, 2003; Gudjonsson et al., 2008; Jakobsson-Öhrn & Nyberg, 2009
Vulnerable suspects • A proportion of suspects simply come to be vulnerable through their character or personality (e.g. B’ham Six, G’ford Four, Judith Ward, and Alfred Allen) • This population do not have any mental disorder to abnormal intellectual functioning – so no apparent signs of vulnerability. • How has such vulnerability developed?
The Suspect’s Life History • The experience of life adversity linked with sensitivity to pressure and false confessions • Types of NLEs associated with interview suggestibility: • Bullying, a history of victimisation, failing exams/difficulty finding work. • Personal relationships – breaks ups/parental divorce, death/major illness of a loved one • Social issues – decline in social activity/being victim of crime. Drake, et. al., 2008; Gudjonsson, Sigurdsson & Sigfusdottir, 2009; 2010
The Suspect’s Life History • Parents provide first source of interaction. • Influences child’s behaviour, perception of self, and relationship with others. • Object of child’s attachment (usually parent or caregiver) usually reciprocates emotions • Results in strong two-way emotional bond • Development of solid interpersonal relationships, healthy self-esteem and psychological development.
Attachment anxiety • Institutionalised children have deficits: • Problems forming attachments • Reduced capacity to deal with stress/pressure • Interpersonal problems • Insecure attachment patterns precipitate the experience of stressful experiences. Drake, 2010b; Schore, 2001; Zeanah & Emde, 1994
How might vulnerability develop across the life-span? OUTER WORLD ADULTHOOD Interview pressure/ questioning Stress/ negative events Social Vulnerability (due to social exclusion etc) Social Deprivation (e.g. poverty/ lack of opportunity) G & C model Lack of care (incl. negative parenting) Vulnerability G & C model Psychological Vulnerability (i.e. insecure attachment; neuroticism) Emotional Deprivation INNER WORLD Interview pressure/ questioning CHILDHOOD Brown, Harris & Bifulco, 1986, Drake, in press, Maughan & Kim-Cohen, 2005
Achieving best evidence in the presence of vulnerability • Adversity can lead to problems during interview • Sensitivity to perceived pressure • Insecure attachment tendencies can lead to problematic interactions. • Now you’ve heard the psychological theory – think back over past interviews that you have conducted, which aspects of the interview may especially be affected and why? • In light of this theory, how can interviewers overcome these?
Points to consider when interviewing a vulnerable suspect • Does the suspect understand the police caution? • Are they fully oriented in time, place and person? • Can the detainee provide coherent and relevant answers, and sustain a conversation? • Issue of rapport building with a vulnerable (emotionally needy sometimes) suspect – always beneficial? Constructive and facilitating, but not “too nice”...... • Interviewer empathy essential
But: when do psychological vulnerabilities matter? • Vulnerable suspects can be interviewed effectively. • PVs as risk factors; not definitive markers of unreliability. • Consistent with Code C of Practice of PACE (Home Office, 2008). • PVs should not be considered in isolation of other factors.
When do psychological vulnerabilities matter cont.? • The investigative interview is a dynamic and interactive process. • Crucial factors influencing capacity for suspect to cope with questioning (Gudjonsson & MacKeith, 1997): • Circumstances • Interactions • Personality • Health
Life adversity can also lead to resilience • Attachment anxiety and the reported experience of intense negative life events psychological resilience (i.e. lower compliance scores). • The experience of dependent and interpersonal negative events predicted lower compliance scores over-and-above attachment anxious behaviour. Drake, Sheffield & Shingler, 2011
The suggestibility and compliance scores of the Birmingham Six (Gudjonsson, 2003).
Summary • Discussed: • The psychology of the vulnerable suspect; • How vulnerability may develop across the life-span; • These suspects do not always show signs of being vulnerable (until the interview where it manifests as compliance/suggestibility etc); • The problems associated with aspects of the interview e.g. rapport building with vulnerable suspects; • When such behaviour may an issue.
Key references • Drake, K. E (in press). Why might innocents make false confessions? The Psychologist. • Gudjonsson, G. H. (2010). Invited article: Psychological vulnerabilities during police interviews. Why are they important? Legal and Criminological Psychology, 15, 1-16.