Police interviewers’ perceptions of child credibility in forensic investigations

Hannah Cassidy, Lucy Akehurst, Julie Cherryman

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    During investigative interviews, police practice can influence key aspects of child credibility, namely the accuracy, competency, reliability, and truthfulness of their testimony. To date, police interviewers’ perceptions of how best to assess child credibility at interview, and how practice impacts upon credibility, have been overlooked. We conducted a qualitative study that examined data from focus groups with 16 English police officers who regularly interview children. The focus group transcripts were analysed using thematic analysis, and four main themes were identified–the 4Es: eliciting information, evaluating credibility, empowering the interviewee, and a high-quality end product. Within these themes, police officers acknowledged some responsibility for the perceived credibility of child victims. Poor interviewing practice could decrease the accuracy of the information elicited and cross-examined in court. Registered intermediaries could empower child interviewees and increase their competency. A lack of reliability contributed to evaluating credibility, but this relationship was not straightforward. Finally, obtaining the most truthful account from child victims was not always possible, because there are many barriers to overcome. Our findings suggest the need for a continued focus on interview protocols that facilitate disclosure from child victims and a review of the professional relationship between those who interview children and prosecutors.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)61-80
    Number of pages20
    JournalPsychiatry, Psychology and Law
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 3 Feb 2020

    Bibliographical note

    This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis Group in Psychiatry, Psychology and Law on 03/02/2020, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/13218719.2019.1687044


    • child disclosure
    • child interviewing
    • field study
    • interviewers’ perceptions
    • investigative interviewing
    • thematic analysis


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