Training Police Officers in Investigative Interviewing: What Role Can Criminologists Play?

Dr Caroline Spiranovic1, Dr Kate Cashman1, Professor Martine  Powell2, Ms Hamida Zekiroski2

1Faculty of Law, College of Arts, Law & Education, University Of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia
2Centre for Investigative Interviewing, Griffith University, Mt Gravatt, 4122

Crimes of interpersonal violence are ‘solved’ often not by forensic science but through evidence gathered via verbal statements and interviews. Furthermore, members of the public who interact with the criminal justice system are often vulnerable and more likely to present with complex communication needs. It is crucial then that police, as gatekeepers of the criminal justice system, are well versed in best practice interviewing skills.

This presentation will offer some unique insights into the industry upskilling of Tasmania Police in investigative interviewing through a collaboration between the University of Tasmania, Tasmania Police and the Centre for Investigative Interviewing (Griffith University). This niche training is a stream of training provided as part of a broader and coordinated program of higher education. In Tasmania, recruits through to experienced officers undertake nationally recognised tertiary qualifications through the University of Tasmania.

The complexity of the investigative interesting skills taught is scaffolded both across and within each stage of a police officer’s career trajectory. The mode of delivery of investigative interviewing comprises blended and paced learning whereby police students undertake online interactive training in open-ended questioning and use of evidence-based interviewing protocols. This is supplemented with regular mock forensic interviews with trainers who role-play a scenario and provide feedback on performance. The mock interviews progressively increase in difficulty and provide opportunities for police students to practice and rehearse procedural skills in investigative interviewing. More recently, specialist interviewing for vulnerable people has been added to the training and requires more advanced skills so that experienced police officers may be able to take reliable and accurate statements from children as young as five years old. The significance of providing this more advanced training  as well as ongoing and preliminary data on effectiveness of the training will be considered in detail.


Caroline (PhD in Psychology) teaches multidisciplinary units in law that bring together the fields of psychology, law, and criminology. She also trains Tasmania Police in investigative interviewing techniques. Her research is also multi-disciplinary and focuses on prevention of violence.

Kate (PhD in law and forensic studies) teaches and trains police recruits and officers with the University of Tasmania in law and policing subjects and investigative interviewing with Tasmania Police. She is a researcher with the Tasmanian Institute of Law Enforcement Studies and her research interests lie in forensic studies, police education, investigative interviewing and leadership and culture in policing organisations.


Dec 10 2021