I was fortunate to grow up exposed to some of the best cop programs ever. The immortal lines of those TV detectives were pure gold: “Book ‘em, Danno!” (Steve McGarrett, Hawaii Five-0), “Elementary my dear Watson” (The adventures of Sherlock Holmes), and, my all-time favorite, “Just one more thing” delivered so brilliantly by Lieutenant Columbo. Who hasn’t watched a police series, especially when the suspect is being questioned, and thought, ‘I can do better than that!’? If you have then you are probably right as TV has created an illusion that police interviewing is somehow an adrenaline-charged game of cat and mouse devoid of any legal safeguards.
The reality is that real-life police interviews are pretty laborious, often foreseeable, and lack the excitement that many amateur sleuths associate with this discipline. How confidently can I say this? Well, I’m an ex-senior cop and have since specialized in the postgraduate research of investigative skills.
However, I would like to take this opportunity to blow away some of the many myths and legends that surround this subject and give you the heads up on how easy it is to develop a pretty robust skillset in a matter of moments enabling you to improve your critique of the pretend cops but perhaps better still apply it to the domestic investigations that you encounter on a regular basis. For example, kids fibbing, things not adding up with a partner, or even a workplace issue that you are managing. I will commence with the presumption that you are a pretty effective interviewer already without even knowing it. If you like talking then you are almost there!
Initially though let’s debunk some of the crap that circulates about this not so dark art. Getting to the absolute truth of the matter is, at best, whimsical. Firstly, the truth, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. In the same way that history is written by the victors, a suspect will create their own narrative. Sensory perception will also affect what people recall and the importance they place on something. Two people looking out of the same window will inevitably note differences. As William Christopher, a partner in Kingsley Napley, London, once said to me, “There are ‘6 truths’; Truth perceived by the defendant, truth articulated by the defendant’s counsel, truth perceived by the victim, truth stated by the prosecution, truth maintained by the jury and, of course, the truth itself.” So, if you are seeking the 100% copper-bottomed truth then please think again because it isn’t going to be forthcoming. Getting somewhere close to the truth is, however, achievable. More of that later.
You can read up to 3 premium stories before you subscribe to Magzter GOLD
Log in, if you are already a subscriber
Get unlimited access to thousands of curated premium stories, newspapers and 5,000+ magazines
READ THE ENTIRE ISSUE