Supporting the interviewing and legal representation of crime victims and suspects using digital communication methods: Is it 'remotely' possible?

Taking an innovative, interdisciplinary approach with partners, our objective is to produce evidence-based policy and resources.

This project is funded by the Economic and Social Research Research Council (ESRC) through the UKRI's rapid response call for research to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reacting to COVID-19 required significant, immediate changes to Government processes including the Criminal Justice System. Clearly, police investigations must continue, and victims, witnesses and suspects of crime must be interviewed. However, lockdowns and social distancing measures means that investigators are unable to conduct interviews, and legal/third party professionals are unable to communicate with clients in a traditional format. Thus, remote communication is one such way currently being conducted across the UK, however, this is not standardised and the current research-base to prove its efficacy is extremely limited.

Our research team comprises experts in the field and will work in collaboration with our national and international partners. We will produce timely and much-needed evidence-based reports and resources to enable immediate and direct impact for our partners and stakeholders. These resources will be available at key stages of the project in order to facilitate shared good practice around two main aspects (comprising four Work Packages):

  • The challenges of conducting interviews remotely via digital means in attempts to gain detailed and accurate information, and;
  • The impact of not having legal and other third party representatives in physical attendance to represent suspects (particularly those who are vulnerable) in the police station.     
About

Professor Gavin Oxburgh

Principal Investigator

Gavin is Professor of Police Science at Northumbria University, UK.

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Professor Dave Walsh

Co-investigator

Dave is Professor of Criminal Investigations at De Montfort University, Leicester, UK.

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Dr Nicci Macleod

Co-investigator

Nicci is a Senior Lecturer in Forensic Linguistics at Aston University, UK.

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Dr Laura Farrugia

Co-investigator

Laura is a Senior Lecturer in Forensic Psychology at Sunderland University, UK.

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Bruno Min

Co-investigator

Bruno is a qualified solicitor and Legal Director (UK and International) at Fair Trials.

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Martin Vaughan

Martin is a retired UK Police Officer and a recognised expert in Interviewing

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Dr Alena Nash

Research Fellow

Alena is the Research Fellow on this project.

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Crown Prosecution Service - Interview Protocol

Interview Protocol between National Police Chiefs’ Council, Crown Prosecution Service, The Law Society, Criminal Law Solicitors’ Association and London Criminal Courts Solicitors’ Association

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Northumbria University Press Release

05/06/2020

During worldwide pandemics, police investigations must continue, and victims, witnesses and suspects of crime must still be interviewed. However, social distancing means that investigators are sometimes unable to conduct interviews and third-party professionals (e.g., legal professionals) are unable to communicate with clients in a traditional format. Remote communication is one way currently being conducted across the UK – but it is not standardised and the current research base to prove its efficacy is extremely limited.

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Fair Trials Press Release

03/04/2020

Fair Trials, is part of a new research project that will look at whether police interviews can be fair and effective when carried out by video or phone rather than in person. In particular, the project will examine the impact of people receiving legal assistance in police custody via phone and videolink rather than in person.

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De Montfort University Press Release

02/06/2020

De Montfort University Leicester (DMU)'s Professor Dave Walsh is part of the £320,000 programme, which is led by academics from Northumbria University, and involves Sunderland University, and global criminal justice watchdog Fair Trials, as well as national and international police organisations.

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  • Newcastle, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom