High-stakes police investigative interviews and intelligence gathering contexts: Practitioners’ perceptions of interpreter impact on rapport development

L. M. Howes1 and J. Goodman-Delahunty2

1 Criminology, School of Social Sciences, University of Tasmania
2 Australian Graduate School of Policing and Security, Charles Sturt University

*corresponding author: Loene.Howes@utas.edu.au

In high-stakes interviews regarding matters of national and international security, interpreters are essential when interviewers and interviewees lack a common language. While rapport-based interviews have been found to be effective in eliciting complete and accurate information from witnesses and suspects in monolingual interviews, little is known about how interpreters may impact rapport development in interpreter-assisted interviews. We aimed to ascertain interviewers’ perceptions of such interviews and rapport development within them. Experienced interviewers (N = 121) drawn from policing, intelligence and military organisations in Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and South Korea participated in structured interviews about interpreter-assisted interviews with high-value targets. Interview transcripts were analysed thematically. Challenges reported in these interviews included concerns arising from poor adherence to professional ethics for interpreters and difficulty in establishing rapport with interviewees. This presentation highlights responses to challenges that adhere to professional ethics and interviewing protocols. Aspects of policy, practice and research are identified for further attention directed towards fostering more effective interviews employing interpreters in high-stakes contexts


Loene is a lecturer in Criminology at the University of Tasmania. Her paper presents research conducted as part of a larger project on police and military investigative interviewing and intelligence-gathering in Asian-Pacific jurisdictions, led by Prof. Jane Goodman-Delahunty of Charles Sturt University. Loene’s research focuses on the inter-professional communication in the criminal justice system.


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