Investigating the Forensic Interviewing of Children: Multiple Interviews and Social Support

PhD Thesis

Waterhouse, G (2016). Investigating the Forensic Interviewing of Children: Multiple Interviews and Social Support. PhD Thesis London South Bank University School of Applied Sciences
AuthorsWaterhouse, G
TypePhD Thesis

Despite a burgeoning literature on the most effective ways to interview child
victims/witnesses and resulting changes in interviewing guidelines in the UK, many
children’s cases still do not progress to court. The present thesis focuses on two underresearched
aspects of interviewing that have the potential to improve children’s
informativeness and their willingness to support case progression; namely, multiple
interviews and social support. Multiple interviewing entails formally interviewing a child
more than once about an alleged event. Social support involves building rapport with a
child to ease their anxieties about the interview. These techniques were addressed in four
studies. The first comprised a survey of police officers and ascertained their opinions
about and use of multiple interviews and social support. Officers reported conducting
child interviews in a supportive manner. Their opinions of multiple interviewing were
cautiously positive, including concerns over causing further distress to a child interviewee
and the possibility that children might provide inconsistent details. The following studies
addressed these risks. The second study analysed interviewer and interviewee behaviours
in a real life sample of multiple interview transcripts. The findings showed first, second,
and third interviews to be conducted similarly in terms of the amount of support provided,
and question types used. Children also provided many new details in second and third
interviews, and very few contradictions of their previous testimony. The third study
comprised an experiment examining the current UK police guidelines’ rapport-building
phase in multiple interviews with children. Again, children provided many new details
and few contradictions in multiple interviews, but there were no significant differences
between the recall and well-being of children who had and had not experienced rapportbuilding.
The final study examined how multiple interviewing and viewing the rapportbuilding
phase of an interview affected mock-jurors’ perceptions of a child witness, the
interview, and the case. Multiple interviews resulted in more positive views of the child,
whereas viewing the rapport-building led to more negative ones. Based on the previous
chapters’ positive findings regarding multiple interviewing, and some recent calls for the
guidelines to be relaxed regarding the contexts in which multiple interviewing should be
encouraged, a Study Space Analysis was conducted. However, this revealed that the
literature is not yet sufficient for policy change to be enacted. In conclusion, multiple
interviewing shows potential to be an effective way of obtaining additional, accurate information from children, but an alternative, more effective technique for building
rapport with, and providing social support to children may need to be developed.

PublisherLondon South Bank University
Publication dates
Print01 Jun 2016
Publication process dates
Deposited12 Feb 2018
Publisher's version
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Related outputs

Dynamics of repeated interviews with children
Waterhouse, G, Ridley, AM, Bull, R, La Rooy, D and Wilcock, R (2016). Dynamics of repeated interviews with children. Applied Cognitive Psychology. 30 (5), pp. 713-721.