Eyewitness testimony is important to criminal investigations. Research has found that remembering is a process that can be distorted by various factors, such as how witnesses are interviewed. Further, prior research has also found that written statements taken by the investigator are not always accurate. The present study explored for what is believed the first time whether interviewing skills are associated with both how much correct verbal information is provided by witnesses and also the accuracy of written statements, using a sample of 30 interviews conducted by serving professional investigators. We found greater inaccuracies at each of these two phases when interviewers were assessed as being less skilled, when compared to interviews conducted by their more highly rated counterparts. Interviewing skills thus appear important when interviewers attempt to gain accurate information from witnesses, and when they generate accurate written statements. Implications for policies and practice, and for future research, are discussed.
- eyewitness testimony
- Information/evidence distortions
- Investigative interviews
- written witness statements