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Published: Friday November 17, 2017

The truth,the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

This post is based on an article in the Huffington Post which can be accessed by clicking here.

The search for the truth should be the aim of all investigative Interactions. Identifying the reliability and value of information is a fundamental element of any enquiry.

The primary source of information in most investigations are human beings and herein lies the problem.

Humans are extremely complex and our behaviour can be impacted upon by many different elements such as perception, ego and bias. All professional investigators will encounter resistance from those they interact with. Such resistance should be expected and is a natural response to being placed in a situation outside of normal behavioural patterns. We all act differently in formal “high stakes” situations and an intrinsic part of any structured conversational approach to eliciting information will include a rapport building element.

The real issue is that a small, in context, percentage of the “ interviewees” may be not only resistant but deceptive. The perennial question, which has been subject to much debate, is how do you effectively identify the reasons behind resistance in such a way as to eliminate any investigator bias and maintain a collaborative open interactional climate.

An article first published in the Huffington Post provides a good snapshot of the positives and negatives in this debate. The headline is rather sensationalist “ 5 guidelines to catch a liar” but is followed by some useful insights from experts in the field most notably Albert Vrji. The wide range of sources provide perceptions, which though not individually significant ,together as part of a strategic approach provide the basis for a truth seeking interaction.

In particular the mentioned SUE ( and now TUE) approach is becoming widespread in both the public and private sectors. The positive benefits of this approach is that it does not involve “ detection detection” but rather relies on encouraging the interviewee through conversational techniques to provide more and more detail without challenge. This is then later compared against the known evidence and clarification and explanation requested.

The key issue is by looking for indicators of deception are we adopting a biased position and therefore colouring our approach. This is something that can be addressed by undertaking structured training which focuses not on obtaining confessions ( a true indication of pre- determined interviewer bias) but of providing an opportunity for the disclosure of the interviewees perception of events which are then subject to proportionate examination.

Bob Pointer is the creator of the non- confrontational Effective investigative Conversations approach specifically designed for non law enforcement investigators. He has delivered courses internationally across diverse sectors and industries.

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