Designing investigative interviewing environments to enhance child comfort, child-interviewer engagement and interview outcomes

Dr Lydia Timms1

1Curtin University, Bentley, Australia

Literature addressing child forensic interviewing considers the role of questioning and the impact of the interviewer on the detail and accuracy of a child’s account of their experiences. However, little is known about how the environment in which the interview takes place can facilitate or hinder child engagement with the interviewer and willingness to disclose.

This review employs the expertise of interviewing, speech pathology, occupational therapy and child protection professionals to document the decision making behind various interview environments including police, courts, therapeutic, child advocacy and forensic medicine settings.

A search of English articles using PsychINFO, MEDLINE and SCOPUS was performed. Search terms, including interview, forensic, suites, trauma and children, revealed papers that provide description or evaluation of fixed (e.g. décor, lighting and recording equipment) and non-fixed (e.g. transportable furniture, toys) environments intended to support child comfort and child-interviewer engagement. Each paper is being reviewed for factors that can inform best practice decisions for designing a forensic interview space that enhances interview outcomes.

In addition to the scoping review, detectives and child interviewers who work in a cluster of recently refurbished child interviewing suites are being sought for interview. Transcripts will be analysed for themes related to the interviewers experience interviewing children in the pre and post renovated suites.

Anecdotal evidence currently informs child interviewing suite décor, but as justice mores towards more efficacious interviewing practices and follows the royal commission recommendation for ‘child-friendly’ forensic interviewing suites, further research is needed to evaluate and inform ongoing decisions.


Biography:

Dr Lydia Timms is an experienced speech pathologist, Currently Employed as a teaching and research academic at Curtin University. She recently completed a Post-Doc Research Fellowship with the Centre of Investigative Interviewing, Griffith University, based at the Adelaide Attorney General’s Department, working towards improvements in disability justice. She has been heavily involved in the creation of the Speech Pathology Australia clinical guidelines for Justice and Mental Health. She has completed her doctorate with Curtin University on Indigenous literacy, ear health and cultural considerations in primary schools. She has worked as a research assistant and consultant with the Centre for Investigative Interviewing since 2012; assessing the language of children in care of the Department of Child Protection and assisting in development of best practice interviewing techniques within Indigenous Australian Communities. Dr Timms continues to collaborate with justice practitioners, including Police Interviewer Trainers and state Child Interviewing Teams. She researches in the area of investigative interviewing, disability justice and communication with vulnerable populations and supervisors research students and teaches justice related content to tertiary students.

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