Goldsmiths wins funding for research to enhance investigative interviewing

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Eight projects to address some of the security threats facing the UK have been announced by the Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats (CREST).

Sketch of investigative interview training

One of the projects is led by Professor Fiona Gabbert and Dr Gordon Wright at Goldsmiths, University of London and will focus on rapport-building in an information-gathering context such as an interview with a suspect or a witness. It will start by mapping the existing literature on rapport-building and use the findings to develop an evidence-based training programme to test the extent to which individuals can be trained to better build rapport.

Previous studies suggest that the development of a positive relationship between interviewer and interviewee can be beneficial to obtaining good information from the interview. However, there is a lack of consensus in how to define, measure, and manipulate rapport – that positive relationship – which has made it difficult to develop evidence-based guidelines relating to training and measuring it.

By evaluating the literature on rapport-building the researchers aim to identify both where there is a sufficient evidence base to inform guidelines and procedures as well as areas where more research is needed. They then plan to develop and pilot an evidence-based rapport-building training programme to explore the extent to which rapport can be effectively trained. The overall goal is to influence both practitioner guidelines and the future direction of research on this topic.

The project team includes collaborators Professor Lorraine Hope from the University of Portsmouth, and Dr Gavin Oxburgh from Newcastle University. This project builds on the expertise of the Forensic Psychology Unit in the field of investigative interviewing, where previous research partners have included the UK’s College of Policing and the International Criminal Court.

After a rigorous and independent review process, these projects (subject to contract) were selected from more than 80 applications to CREST's recent commissioning call. CREST offered £900,000 to fund innovative economic, behavioural, and social science research relevant to understanding and mitigating contemporary security threats.

Speaking about the announcement the Director of CREST, Professor Paul Taylor, said: “We continue to be impressed by the outstanding quality of responses to our call. The successful applicants promise to deliver theoretical innovation that will make a real difference to the work of the security and intelligence agencies. I am looking forward to working with them.”

More about CREST and all eight projects here.

Sketch based on original GMP image.