When police interview victims of sexual assault: Comparing written guidance to interactional practice

This chapter presents an analysis of investigative interviews with victims of reported sexual abuse. The data analysed are 19 videotapes of interviews from archived cases involving complainants with intellectual disabilities. In particular, the chapter compares what is recommended in UK national guidelines to ‘achieve best evidence’ in such victim interviews and, on the basis of conversation analysis, how police officers adhere to and depart from recommended practice in ways which are both effective and less effective. The analysis reveals a restricted sense of rapport, and occasional use of questions implying blame. We consider the implications of our analysis for published guidelines for interviewing victims and witnesses as well as for the training of officers and those who work with vulnerable adults and children to achieve a fair and supportive criminal justice system.