The case for the Good Cop
…the false belief and false memories in cases of coerced-internalised false confession are most commonly developed as a result of manipulative interrogation techniques. (Gudjonsson, 1997, p. 298)
Gísli Guðjónsson C.B.E and currently honorary consultant Clinical and Forensic psychologist at Broadmoor Hospital has made arguably some of the biggest contributions to Psychology. Guðjónsson has had a hand in some of the most significant interventions Psychology has made in the U.K particularly as his role as an expert witness in false confession. The most notable within the context of the infamous Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four miscarriages of justice as well as the assessment of Colin Stagg whilst on remand for the Rachel Nickell murder. However one of Guðjónsson’s biggest applied contributions in that of his research into a reliable method of measuring the yield and shift elements that contribute to different types of false confession. This is called the Gudjonsson Suggestibility Scale which is only available to Chartered Clinical and Forensic Psychologists.
Types of False Confession
1. Voluntary False Confession -Examples of reasons are to pre-empt further investigation of a more serious offence (Shepherd, 1996), or to protect a significant other,to gain notoriety or even a pathological need to become infamous and to enhance one’s self-esteem (Huff, Rattner, & Sagarin, 1986);
Listen to an excerpt of the infamous taunting confession of ‘Wearside Jack’ who sidelined the Police in the 1970’s from the hunt of Peter Sutcliffe AKA The Yorkshire Ripper. Sutcliffe murdered three women whilst the police were searching the North East area for ‘Jack’ rather than the West Yorkshire area.
2. Coerced-compliant false confessions. -Those who want to please their interrogator or think they will be released at a later date due to being found not guilty, These individuals know they are not guilty. Read about the case of ‘FC’.
3. Coerced-internalised false confession – The suspect accepts the version presented to them and internalises the ‘facts’. This is a dangerous scenario as false memories can be created which are very difficult if even possible to differentiate from real memories and thus only new evidence can counter these. Why would anybody looking if someone has confessed? This is where yielding to pressure and shifting the story becomes prominent. Gudjonsson-False_Confessions can be very influential here too.
For a guided tour on the Psychology of Forensic False Confessions with analysis by Guðjónsson himself read and watch the clips in this fascinating BBC News Special on the case of the Reykjavik confessions.
Read an insightful interview from the 2013 edition of the Psychologist by The British Psychological Society that delves into Guðjónsson’s lifetime of contributions to Psychology. There is a particular interesting section on the influence of the Reid technique. You can listen to the interview here.
The Case for Bad Cop
John E. Reid and Associates developed one of the most effective methods of eliciting a confession from a guilty suspect. ‘The Reid Technique’. The technique has been used extensively in North America and has contributed to the convictions of countless suspects. The technique uses a range of methods to guide the suspect into a psychological state where they are given a choice of versions of events (both of which requires admission of guilt).
There are three many phases of the process.
1. Factual analysis –This represents the collection and analysis of information relative to a crime scene, the victim and possible subjects.
2. Behaviour Analysis Interview –a non-accusatory question and answer session intended to elicit information from the subject in a controlled environment. The clinical nature of the interview, including the asking of specific behaviour provoking questions, is designed to provide the investigator with verbal, paralinguistic and nonverbal behavior symptoms which either support probable truthfulness or deception
3. Accusatory interrogation –elicit the truth from someone whom the investigator believes has lied during an interview.
adapted from https://www.reid.com/educational_info/canada.html
The interrogation of a suspect who has lied is the basis of the formation of Inbau and Reid’s 9 steps.
An insightful documentary into the relationship between interrogation and confession.