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The Discourse of Police Interviews

Forensic linguistics, or the study of language and the law, is a growing field of scholarly and public interest with an established research presence. The Discourse of Police Interviews aims to further the discussion by analyzing how police interviews are constructed and used to investigate and prosecute crimes.

The first book to focus exclusively on the discourses of police interviewing, The Discourse of Police Interviews examines leading debates, approaches, and topics in contemporary police interview research. Among other topics, the book explores the sociolegal, psychological, and discursive framework of popular police interview techniques employed in the United States and the United Kingdom, such as PEACE and Reid, and the discursive practices of institutional representatives like police officers and interpreters that can influence the construction and quality of linguistic evidence. Together, the contributions situate the police interview as part of a complex, and multistage, criminal justice process. The book will be of interest to both scholars and practitioners in a variety of fields, such as linguistic anthropology, interpreting studies, criminology, law, and sociology.

336 pages | 7 line drawings, 3 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2019


Language and Linguistics: Anthropological/Sociological Aspects of Language, Language and Law


The Discourse of Police Interviews is poised to make an important contribution to forensic discourse analysis and language study. The book is useful in that it brings many approaches to and analyses of policing and police discourse in one place, making it useful for teaching and research alike. The topic is timely, the chapters are well written, and the analyses are tight and compelling and sophisticated while remaining clear.”

Jennifer Andrus, University of Utah

“To my knowledge, there are no other edited volumes devoted exclusively to the discourse of police interviews and interrogations. This book is thus essential reading for scholars and students of language and the law. All of the chapters are empirically grounded, drawing their data from actual police interviews and interrogations. A number of the chapters investigate what the editors refer to as the ‘institutionally endorsed’ methods and techniques; others examine specific discursive practices that have an influence on the kind of ‘evidence’ to emerge from police interviews/interrogations, including the way that police officers and interpreters can shape the trajectory of these interactions. Still others examine the changes that occur when police interviews are transformed into written police records, records which in some jurisdictions play a substantive role in trials.”

Susan Ehrlich, York University

"Mason and Rock. . .interweave police interviews, discursive transformations in bilingual interviews, and the discursive journey and institutional applications of police interviews throughout their book. The. . .contributors here expertly define forensic linguistics, or the study of language and law, and how it is applied and studied in society today."

Kevin Cassidy | Criminal Law Criminal Justice Books

"The Discourse of Police Interviews is a thorough exploration of police interviewing practice. . . .With the presentation and analysis of real-life cases, the authors explore all different stages (of the process) and elements of police interview discourse, from the initial production of discourse. . . to fulfilling their fundamental purpose, used in legal and institutional settings. As such, it is a book that both scholars in the field, as well as professionals would benefit from reading. . . . an insightful and informative book."

Journal of Pragmatics

Table of Contents

List of Conventions

Chapter 1. Introduction
Marianne Mason

Section 1. The Discourse of Reid and PEACE

Chapter 2. When Police Interview Victims of Sexual Assault: Comparing Written Guidance to Interactional Practice
Elizabeth Stokoe, Charles Antaki, Emma Richardson, and Sara Willott

Chapter 3. Obtaining Valid Discourse from Suspects PEACE-fully: What Role for Rapport and Empathy?
Ray Bull and Bianca Baker

Chapter 4. The Guilt-Presumptive Nature of Custodial Interrogations in the United States: The Use of Confrontation, Appeals to Self-Interest, and Sympathy/Minimization in the Reid Technique
Marianne Mason

Chapter 5. The Discourse Structure of Blame Mitigation in a Police Interrogation
Philip Gaines

Section 2. Police Interview Dynamics and Negotiation

Chapter 6. Now the Rest of the Story: The Collaborative Production of Confession Narratives in Police Interrogations
Gary C. David and James Trainum

Chapter 7. Patterns of Cooperation between Police Interviewers with Suspected Sex Offenders
Tatiana Tkacukova and Gavin E. Oxburgh

Chapter 8. Supporting Competing Narratives: A Membership Categorization Analysis of Identity Work in Police-Detainee Talk
David Yoong and Ayeshah Syed

Section 3. Discursive Transformations in Bilingual Police Interviews

Chapter 9. Narrative Construction in Interpreted Police Interviews
Ikuko Nakane

Chapter 10. Interactional Management in a Simulated Police Interview: Interpreters’ Strategies
Sandra Hale, Jane Goodman-Delahunty, and Natalie Martschuk

Chapter 11. Non-Native Speakers, Miranda Rights, and Custodial Interrogation
Bethany K. Dumas

Section 4. The Discursive Journey and Institutional Applications of Police Interviews

Chapter 12. “Tell Me in Your Own Words…”: Reconciling Institutional Salience and Witness-Compatible Language in Police Interviews with Women Reporting Rape
Nicci MacLeod

Chapter 13. “Are You Saying You Were Stabbed . . . ?”: Multimodality, Embodied Action, and Dramatized Formulations in “Fixing” the Facts in Police Interviews with Suspects
Alison Johnson

Chapter 14. Functions of Transmodal Metalanguage for Collaborative Writing in Police-Witness Interviews
Frances Rock

Chapter 15. Reconstructing Suspects’ Stories in Various Police Record Styles
Tessa (T. C.) van Charldorp

Chapter 16. Police Records in Court: The Narrative Fore- and Backgrounding of Information by Judges in Inquisitorial Criminal Court
Fleur van der Houwen


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