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Unformatted text preview: Interviewing alleged victims with intellectual disabilities A.-C. Cederborg 1 & M. Lamb 2 1 Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden 2 Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, Cambridge University, Cambridge, UK Abstract Background When interviewing alleged victims of crime, it is important to obtain reports that are as accurate and complete as possible. This can be especially difficult when the alleged victims have intellectual disabilities (ID). This study explored how alleged victims with ID are interviewed by police officers in Sweden and how this may affect their ability to report information as accurately as possible. Methods Twelve interviews with 11 alleged victims were selected from a larger sample. The complain- ants were interviewed when their chronological ages ranged from 6 . 1 to 22 years. A quantitative analysis examined the type of questions asked and the numbers of words and details they elicited in response. Results Instead of open-ended questions, the inter- viewers relied heavily on focused questions, which are more likely to elicit inaccurate information. When given the opportunity, the witnesses were able to answer directive questions informatively. Conclusions Interviewers need special skills in order to interview alleged victims who have ID. In addition to using more open-ended questions, inter- viewers should speak in shorter sentences. Keywords crime victims, forensic interviews, intellectual disabilities, interviewer behaviour Introduction When investigating possible crimes, it is important to obtain reports from the alleged victims that are as accurate and complete as possible. Obtaining reports from alleged victims can be difficult at the best of times because the alleged offences may be confusing or traumatic, however, and it can be especially difficult to interview some people because of such personal characteristics as their age, frailty, sensory impairments and intellectual disabilities (ID). Children and adults with ID may, for example, have poorer memories and be more sug- gestible (Kebbell & Hatton 1999 ; Gudjonsson & Henry 2003 ) although they may differ greatly among themselves with respect to their psychologi- cal vulnerabilities and suggestibility (Ceci et al . 2000 ; Gudjonsson & Henry 2003 ). In this study, we explored the ways in which adults and children with ID are interviewed by police officers when they are alleged victims of abuse. The term ‘intellectual disabilities’ implies that difficulties began early in life and interfered with ‘normal’ development (Rispens et al . 1997 ). Gener- ally, these developmental deviations are character- ized by unique patterns of delay, with the deviance often more marked in one or more specific domains than others (Dyck et al . 2004 ). As a result, different Correspondence: Dr Ann-Christin Cederborg, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden, S- 581 83 (e-mail:...
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This note was uploaded on 02/10/2011 for the course EEX 2000 taught by Professor Elizabethfilippi during the Spring '11 term at University of Florida.
- Spring '11