The Reid Technique is a method of questioning subjects and assessing their credibility. The technique consists of a non-accusatory interview combining both investigative and behavior-provoking questions. If the investigative information indicates that the subject committed the crime in question, the Reid Nine Steps of Interrogation are utilized to persuade the subject to tell the truth about what they did.
The Reid technique involves three different components — factual analysis, interviewing, and interrogation. While each of these are separate and distinct procedures, they are interrelated in the sense that each serves to help eliminate innocent suspects during an investigation, thereby allowing the investigator to focus upon the person most likely to be guilty. Interrogating that individual then becomes foremost in the effort to learn the truth. Supporters argue the Reid Technique is useful in extracting information from otherwise unwilling suspects, while critics have charged the technique can elicit false confessions from innocent persons , especially children. The use of the Reid Technique on youth is prohibited in Great Britain because of the incidence of false confessions and the wrongful convictions that result.
The term "Reid Technique" is a registered trademark of the firm John E. Reid and Associates, which offers training courses in the method they have devised. The technique is widely used by law-enforcement agencies in North America
Both an interview as well as an interrogation are facilitated by analysis of investigative findings. Proper factual analysis assists the investigator in the following ways:
- Eliminate improbable suspects
- Develop possible suspects or leads
- Increase confidence in identifying truthful or guilty suspects through the interview process
- Identify proper interrogation strategies
The Behavior Analysis InterviewEdit
The word "interview" refers to a non-accusatory question and answer session with a witness, victim or a suspect. In addition to standard investigative questions, structured "behavior provoking" questions are asked to elicit behavior symptoms from the person being interviewed which indicate either truth or deception. This structured procedure is referred to as a Behavior Analysis Interview (or BAI).
"Interrogation," on the other hand, is an accusatory process — accusatory only in the sense that the investigator tells the suspect that there is no doubt as to his guilt. The interrogation is in the form of a monologue presented by the investigator, rather than a question and answer format.
The actual demeanor of the investigator during the course of an interrogation is understanding, patient, and non-demeaning. His or her goal is to make the suspect progressively more and more comfortable with acknowledging the truth about what they have done. This is accomplished by offering the subject psychological justification for their behavior.
The first admission of guilt is usually obtained by asking the alternative question - Did you plan this out or did it just happen on the spur of the moment?" Once the subject acknowledges their guilt then active persuasion stops and the interrogator attempts to develop from the subject corroborating information that can be used to establish the credibility of the confession.
The Reid Technique's Nine Steps of InterrogationEdit
- Step 1 - Direct Confrontation. Lead the suspect to understand that the evidence has led the police to the individual as a suspect. Offer the person an early opportunity to explain why the offense took place.
- Step 2 - Try to shift the blame away from the suspect to some other person or set of circumstances that prompted the suspect to commit the crime. That is, develop themes containing reasons that will justify or excuse the crime. Themes may be developed or changed to find one to which the accused is most responsive.
- Step 3 - Try to discourage the suspect from denying his guilt. Reid training video: "If you’ve let him talk and say the words ‘I didn’t do it’, and the more often a person says ‘I didn’t do it’, the more difficult it is to get a confession."
- Step 4 - At this point, the accused will often give a reason why he or she did not or could not commit the crime. Try to use this to move towards the confession.
- Step 5 - Reinforce sincerity to ensure that the suspect is receptive.
- Step 6 - The suspect will become quieter and listen. Move the theme discussion towards offering alternatives. If the suspect cries at this point, infer guilt.
- Step 7 - Pose the “alternative question”, giving two choices for what happened; one more socially acceptable than the other. The suspect is expected to choose the easier option but whichever alternative the suspect chooses, guilt is admitted. There is always a third option which is to maintain that they did not commit the crime.
- Step 8 - Lead the suspect to repeat the admission of guilt in front of witnesses and develop corroborating information to establish the validity of the confession.
- Step 9 - Document the suspect's admission and have him or her prepare a recorded statement (audio, video or written).
- ↑ Kassin, Saul and Christina Fong: "'I'm Innocent!': Effects of Training on Judgments of Truth and Deception in the Interrogation room", Law and Human Behavior, Vol. 23 No. 5, 1999, page 499-516.
- ↑ Beck, Susan: "Saving Anthony Harris", American Lawyer, The, Vol. XXXI No. 3 March 2009, page 76.