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Investigative interviewing witness guide 

Much of this document is based on materials from National Policing Improvement Agency 
(NPIA) in the United Kingdom. The Investigative Interviewing Unit gratefully 
acknowledges the generosity of: 
•  NPIA in allowing the New Zealand Police to use this and all their other 'PEACE' related 
•  Dr Rebecca Milne, for her time, expertise and advice that have contributed to the 
development of this guidance.  
Other material comes from:  
•  Criminal Justice System (2007). Achieving Best Evidence in Criminal Proceedings: 
Guidance on interviewing victims and witnesses, and using special measures.  
London: Office for Criminal Justice Reform. 
•  Milne, R. & Bull, R. (1999). Investigative Interviewing: Psychology and practice. 
Wiley: West Sussex 
•  Ord, B., Shaw, G., & Green, T. (2004). Investigative Interviewing Explained. Lexis 
Nexis Butterworths: New South Wales 
•  Schollum, M. (Sept 2005). Investigative Interviewing: the literature.  New Zealand 
Police: Wellington 
This document outlines the skills required to gain complete, accurate and reliable 
information from investigative interviews with victims and witnesses. It develops on the 
foundation provided by the Investigative interviewing doctrine. 
Related information 
More information on investigative interviewing can be found at Services/CIB Crime 
Service Centre/Service Units/Investigative Interviewing. Other documents in this series 
can be found at Intranet/Police Instructions/Police Manual/Investigations/Interviewing: 
•  Investigative interviewing doctrine 
•  Investigative interviewing suspect guide  
If you have any feedback please forward any comments to: 
•  [email address] 
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This document provides guidelines and procedures for: 
•  interviewing witnesses, including reluctant or difficult witnesses 
•  identifying and interviewing witnesses requiring special consideration 
•  the specialist interviewing of adult witnesses.  
It is designed to support interviewers at all levels of the Investigative Interviewing 
Standards and Training framework. 
Who is a witness? 
Witnesses are people who have information about an alleged offence or offender. They 
may be an eyewitness, present at the event, or someone who can only provide 
peripheral information.  
In these guidelines, the term 'witness'... 
does not include...  
(defined in section 2 Victim Rights Act 
2002 as a person injured or suffering loss  Special provisions for dealing with 
or harm as a result of an offence) 
suspects are detailed in the Investigative 
interviewing suspect guide.

What is the purpose of interviewing witnesses? 
The purpose of interviewing witnesses is to ascertain the witness's account of the alleged 
event(s) and any other information that would assist the investigation.   
Guidelines are not prescriptive 
Every witness is different. Therefore the guidelines are not in a prescriptive format that 
must be rigidly followed, nor should they imply that all other techniques are 
unacceptable.  Instead, interviewers should be flexible, utilising techniques as and when 
you see fit depending on the interviewee, situation and circumstance. 
Merely following the guidelines will not make a good interview. Interviewing is a skilled 
task requiring training, practice and judgement. As the interviewer, you may decide that 
in the interests of justice or to promote the witness's well-being the interview requires 
procedures different to those described.  
Any decisions of this kind should be made in consultation with an NCO and, where 
appropriate, the prosecuting agency.  
Always behave ethically when interviewing 
Regardless of what approach you take, you must still always behave ethically and with 
the ten principles of investigative interviewing in mind. 
Treat all witnesses as individuals 
As an investigator, interviewing witnesses is part of your everyday business. Witnesses 
come from a wide range of backgrounds and each presents you with different challenges. 
They all have different needs and concerns, and levels of involvement in the 
investigation (e.g. you may have a witness who is a victim of the crime or a witness with 
no links to the victim whatsoever but who saw what has occurred). There can never be a 
‘one size fits all’ approach to the interaction with witnesses and individual circumstances 
should always be taken into consideration. 
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Give special care to victims  
Treat all witnesses with empathy and sensitivity. As victims are at high risk of being 
traumatised, additional provisions exist to ensure special care is taken.  
You must treat victims with courtesy and compassion and respect their dignity and 
privacy (s 2 Victims Rights Act 2002).  
Multiple witnesses 
If there is more than one witness to an incident care should be taken to minimise the 
risk of memory contamination between witnesses by: 
•  separating the witnesses as soon as is feasible and interviewing them individually 
•  if the interview is being delayed, consider asking the witnesses not to discuss the 
incident with other people involved and explaining to them why you are taking this 
action, i.e. the potential for post-event information to contaminate memory.  Be 
aware that a more flexible approach is required with witnesses that may be stressed 
by the incident as discussing it with others may help therapeutically. 
Witnesses who become suspects 
If a witness becomes a suspect during interview procedures for interviewing suspects 
should be adopted including complying with all legal requirements and visually recording 
the interview. The Criminal Investigations (Bodily Samples) Act 1995 section 2 provides 
a definition of a suspect:  
'Suspect, in relation to an offence, means any person whom it is believed has or may 
have committed that offence, whether or not- 
(a) That person has been charged with that offence; or 
(b) There is good cause to suspect that person of having committed that offence.' 
This means if there is sufficient evidence to charge, the interviewee should be cautioned.  
Gathering intelligence from witnesses 
The same procedures for interviewing witnesses should be applied when gathering 
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Interviewing principles and framework 
Ten principles of investigative interviewing 

Ten principles provide an authoritative guide to ethical interviewing. Approach all 
interviews with these principles in mind and use them to actively examine your own 
attitudes and behaviours. 

Interviewing is at the heart of investigation. 

The aim of an interview is to discover the truth. 

Information must be complete, accurate and reliable. 

Keep an open mind. 
5 Act 

Questioning can be persistent. 

Some witnesses require special consideration. 

Suspects must be interviewed in accordance with the law. 

Special care must be taken to identify suspects requiring special consideration. 
Be sensitive to cultural background and religious beliefs. 
PEACE interviewing framework 
Conduct witness interviews using the PEACE interviewing framework. 
Step Action 

Planning and preparation
Review available information and establish interview aims and objectives. 

Engage and explain:  
Develop rapport and explain interview processes and procedures. 

Using an appropriate interview model gain an account of events and probe the 
account for more information. 

Conclude the interview and address any concerns. 
Evaluate how the information obtained impacts on the investigation and also 
evaluate the performance of the interviewer. 
Interview models 
These three interview models are used within the PEACE framework: 
•  Free recall: encourages cooperative interviewees to give their own account of what 
happened in their own time and without interruptions.  
•  Conversation management: enables the interviewer to control the interview and elicit 
as much information as possible from a reluctant interviewee. 
•  Enhanced cognitive interviewing: builds on free recall using advanced techniques to 
assist a cooperative interviewee to recall as much high quality information as possible. 
For advice on investigative interviewing related matters contact the Investigative 
Interviewing Unit at Police National Headquarters on extension 44662 or at 
[email address].  
All investigative interviewing forms are located on 'Police Forms' under 'Investigative 
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Planning and preparing interviews 
Planning and preparation is one of the most important phases in effective interviewing. 
Always plan and prepare, no matter what type of interview is being considered, to 
ensure you are ready to conduct an effective and ethical interview. 
What should be covered when planning and preparing for an interview? 
Step Action 

Consider these factors when planning and preparing for an interview:  
•  interview aims and objectives 
•  investigatively important topics 
•  witness profile: identity factors and current state 
•  legal requirements 
•  interview structure 
•  contingencies for interviewee reaction 
•  practical arrangements, including whether or not the interview should be 
delayed because the witness requires special consideration (e.g. due to 

Decide if the witness requires special consideration and if they do what initial 
action you should take.  

Complete a written interview plan where possible. 
Interview aims and objectives  
Develop a good understanding of the investigation and the purpose of the interview by:     
•  examining all available evidence - witness statements, scene examination, exhibits, 
and other supporting documents 
•  setting the aims and objectives for the interview. These should focus on the 
investigatively important topics that need to be covered. 
Investigatively important topics 
Identify topics needing to be explored for the investigation, including: 
•  circumstances of alleged offending including what happened: 
-  immediately before the alleged offence 
-  during and after the alleged offence 
•  all physical and verbal interactions between the witness and the alleged offender or 
anyone else 
•  type and severity of alleged offence 
•  offence ingredients and probable defences 
•  identity and description of the suspect and other witnesses 
•  covering ADVOKATES with eyewitnesses 
•  descriptions of the scene, exhibits and other items of interest 
•  how the alleged offence came to the notice of police. 
Witness profile: identity factors 
Build up a profile of the witness by gaining as much information as possible about: 
•  name and preferred name (e.g. Matthew but prefers Matt) 
•  gender and sexuality if relevant  
•  age and maturity 
•  race (if Maori include Iwi and Hapu), culture, religion and first language 
•  any physical, intellectual, psychological or psychiatric impairment 
•  relationship of witness to the alleged offender 
•  domestic circumstances 
•  current or previous contact with public services such as previous police contact, CYFS, 
health professionals. 
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•  absence or likely absence from New Zealand. 
•  consider special needs the witness may have, for example, if an interpreter is 
•  conduct a NIA check including criminal history and records. 
Witness profile: current state 
Consider the witness's emotional and physical state including: 
•  any trauma suffered  
•  fears of intimidation 
•  likely impact of recalling traumatic events on the witness's behaviour 
•  impact on behaviour of physical injuries, intoxication, tiredness and so on (delay the 
interview if appropriate) 
•  whether the witness is currently in a safe environment  
•  type of evidence the witness is likely to give. 
It is paramount you consider the witness's well-being and investigative needs in this 
decision making. 
Interview structure 
Based on the information established about the witness and the offence decide: 
•  whether the witness requires special consideration  
•  whether the interview should be visually recorded and a specialist interviewer 
•  what interview model to use (generally free recall model for cooperative witnesses, 
conversation management model for reluctant witnesses). The model adopted may 
need to change over the course of the interview 
•  how you will set the scene and your first opening question. 
Contingencies for witness reaction 
Consider contingencies for the witness's reaction, including: 
•  what to do if they are fully cooperative 
•  approaches to take if they become difficult to interview or reluctant, say nothing, give 
sparing information or lie 
•  whether to break the interview up over several sessions (this may be advantageous if 
a lot needs to be covered, the incident happened over a number of occasions, or the 
witness finds the interview experience traumatic). 
Practical arrangements 
•  who should be present during the interview, e.g. a support person or interpreter.  
•  where and when the interview should take place 
•  the pace and likely duration of the interview and need for breaks. 
Let your supervisor know where you are and that you are interviewing someone and are 
unavailable. If possible, turn your radio and cell-phone off. 
Consider what is likely to happen after the interview (medical examination, photographs, 
fingerprints, return home). 
Timing of the interview 
As a general rule the interview should be conducted as early as possible for both 
investigative purposes and to minimise the risk of memory contamination and forgetting. 
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Consider the following when making a decision when to interview a witness: 
•  investigative factors - what are the needs of the investigation?  How quickly do we 
need the information? 
•  interviewee factors - what are the needs of the interviewee?  Would the interviewee 
benefit from delaying the interview?  Involve the interviewee in the decision. 
•  memory factors - the longer the delay in conducting interview, the greater the room 
for potential memory contamination and forgetting. 
If a witness is traumatised consider delaying the interview. Check with the witness as to 
their preference, some witnesses may want to be interviewed straight away to get it 
over with.  Also remember some witnesses, e.g. family violence victims, may be more 
forthcoming with information if interviewed immediately. In such cases it is important to 
interview the witness as near to the event as reasonable so the investigation can be 
completed with urgency.  Interviews with witnesses who are tired or intoxicated should 
only be conducted in exceptional circumstances.   
Preparing the interview location 
•  A quiet room that is free from distractions and interruptions allowing both you and the 
witness to concentrate is an ideal setting. 
•  Ask the witness where they prefer to be interviewed. 
•  Set up the interview room and arrange the seating - ten to two is the preferred 
•  Consider willingness to talk in a formal setting to a police officer.  
•  Check equipment.  
•  Make sure you have ready communication aids – including pen and paper for drawing 
sketch plans. 
•  Consider implications if a support person or interpreter is required. 
•  Provide refreshments and tissues where appropriate. 
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Engage and explain 
Preparing the witness for interview  

First impressions do count, so the opening phase of the interview will often determine 
the success of the interview as a whole.  The engage and explain interview phase may 
be immediately prior to the interview or on a separate occasion depending on the 
circumstances of the case. It can also take place in person or over the telephone.  
Engage the witness  
Establish rapport to put the witness as ease and allow for maximum remembering by: 
•  introducing yourself and any others present  
•  asking the witness what they would like to be called 
•  asking when is a suitable time for interview, e.g. do they have any pressing needs or 
•  personalising the interview, i.e. treat the witness as an individual and talk to them in 
a manner and language they understand 
•  discussing neutral topics 
•  communicating empathy, i.e. addressing any concerns about events, the interview 
and the investigation. 
Maintain impartiality to establish the foundation for a relationship of trust by: 
•  keeping an open mind, i.e. don't pre-judge the witness  
•  using open questions and not interrupting - begin with TEDS style questions to 
encourage the witness to start talking 
•  actively listening. 
Explain interview procedures 
Explain interview procedures including: 
•  reason(s) for the interview - do this in a way that makes the interview's purpose clear 
but does not specify the nature of the offence  
•  routine(s) that will be adopted - note taking and method of recording 
•  the interview structure - tell them they will be asked for their account and then you 
may ask questions to clarify their information 
Ground rules for cooperative witnesses  
Unless the witness is difficult to interview or reluctant, explain the ground rules for the 
interview by explaining your expectations about each others roles. 
You want the 
Tell the witness... 
witness to... 
Concentrate you 
•  considerable effort and concentration is required, so they will 
be given time to remember and provide their account 
•  this may be difficult 
Report everything  you want them to: 
•  give an account of all they know in as much detail as possible 
•  not edit their account but tell you everything that comes to 
mind – including all the information they are not confident 
about or think may be trivial or partial, information they think 
you already know 
•  take their own time and set their own pace 
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Take control 
•  you weren't there so you don't know what happened 
•  you want them to: 
-  do all the talking because they have information you want to 
-  give you as much detail as possible and tell you if they don’t 
know something 
-  not be influenced by what they think you or others might 
want them to say 
-  correct you if they feel you have misunderstood something 
they have said.  
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Identifying a suitable interview model 

Different techniques can be used to help witnesses provide a full account of events. The 
techniques used will depend on your interviewing skills and the witness's level of 
Use this table to help you identify the most suitable model. 
Model Interviewee 
Free recall 
Free recall trained 
(including witnesses 
requiring special 

Difficult to interview  All  
or reluctant 
(including witnesses 
requiring special 
Enhanced cognitive  Cooperative 
Serious or complex 
Enhanced cognitive 
interviewing trained 
Changing models during interview 
Witnesses can move from being cooperative to uncooperative and vice versa during 
interviews and you may need to change your interviewing technique as a result. Revert 
to free recall model where possible.  
Using the free recall model  
This table details the steps that should be completed when using the free recall model.  
Interview stage  
Set the scene and 
•  Set the scene by using non-suggestive verbal cues to guide 
initiate free report  
the witnesses' memory back to the time and place of the 
•  Initiate a free report by using an open TEDS type question. 
Ask the witness to give an account of everything they know 
about the matter under investigation.  
•  Allow for pauses and do not interrupt the witness. Actively 
listen using minimal prompts that do not go beyond the 
witness’s account.  
•  Reflect back what was said where necessary.  
•  Take notes of areas you wish to obtain more information 
•  If appropriate, get the witness to draw a sketch plan. Ensure 
the witness dates and endorses the sketch plan as it may 
later be referred to and used as an exhibit. 
•  If more detail is required go through another free report. 
Identify and expand 
•  Break down the witness's account into manageable topics. 
witness topics 
•  Systematically expand each topic of the witness's account by 
obtaining a free report with open TEDS type questions. 
When open questions are no longer fruitful use probing 5Wh 
+ How type questions
 if necessary. 
•  Try to go through the topics in the order the witness gave 
them in their initial free report. 
•  Take notes of what is said to aid your memory when 
preparing a written statement. 
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•  Repeat this process until you have covered all topics. 
Identify and expand 
•  Introduce investigatively important topics not yet covered. 
•  Systematically expand each topic of the witness's account by 
important topics
obtaining a free report with open TEDS type questions. 
When open questions are no longer fruitful use probing 5Wh 
+ How type questions if necessary. 
•  Repeat this process until you have covered all investigatively 
important topics. 
•  After the witness has provided all their information, 
summarise back what they have told you in their own 
Free recall questioning style  
Whether or not your witness requires special consideration, you should use these 
interviewing techniques to minimise the risk of influencing what the witness says.  
Explanation /example  
Keep questions short and simple 
The younger or more vulnerable the 
person, the shorter and more simply 
phrased the questions need to be. 
Ask questions in a language and manner 
i.e. open TEDS type questions in simple 
the person understands 
language are the best for the majority of 
•  Move to more specific closed questions  •  Avoid why questions unless absolutely 
using 5WH's + How when open 
necessary and the question is couched 
questions are no longer fruitful and 
in a very empathetic way - the victim 
more detail is required 
may think you are blaming them and 
•  Begin with the least explicit version of 
these types of questions are very 
the closed question 
difficult to answer with factual 
•  The drawback of using specific closed 
questions is that the witness might 
respond with a choice without 
elaborating or be tempted to guess to 
assist or please you in the absence of a 
genuine memory. Thus the quality of 
the information gleaned tends to be 
poorer than information gained from 
open TEDS type questions. 
If a support person is present check with 
them wording or phrases you think the 
•  the term 'penis' may not be understood 
witness may find difficult or for which the 
but the term 'dick' may.  
witness may have a different meaning 
•  'aunty' means parent's sister to most 
than commonly held 
people but to others it may include a 
long-term female family friend.  
Avoid topic hopping  
i.e. rapidly moving from one topic to 
another and back again. 
Avoid interrupting 
Some witnesses may speak slowly and 
pause for longer. 
Avoid repeating questions  
The witness might infer their initial 
response was incorrect. 
Avoid developmentally inappropriate 
e.g. some witnesses might find questions 
relating to time, date, height, length, 
weight, age etc difficult. 
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If a witness responds to a leading 
the answer or assuming facts that are in 
question with relevant information not led 
dispute) as a last resort  
by the question, revert to open questions. 
Avoid asking questions with a 'Yes'/'No' 
The witness may want to please by saying 
'Yes' and avoid discussing uncomfortable 
topics by responding negatively. 
Question types 
This table outlines commonly used question types. 
Open TEDS type questions 
Probing 5 Wh's + How questions 
Describing people of interest 
Obtain as much detail as possible when a witness describes a suspect or other person 
whose identity may later need to be established. There are three main reasons for this: 
•  their description may be your only opportunity to identify the suspect or person of 
•  once the suspect has been identified the original description may become vital 
evidence during any resulting criminal proceedings 
•  if the witness endorses the description by signature, it can be used to refresh their 
memory before giving evidence in criminal proceedings (which may be months or 
years later). 
Tools to assist witnesses describe people of interest 
10 point description 

Cover these ten points during an interview when describing a person of interest: 
Hairstyle and 
Complexion Distinguishing 
Clothing Carrying 
Use open TEDS type questions to get the interviewee to provide a detailed description of 
the offender e.g. ‘Describe him to me in as much detail as you can…’ Go back to any 
details they may have missed using more open TEDS type questions and finally with 
probing 5Wh + How type questions if required. 
Use the mnemonic 'ADVOKATES' to ensure an eye witness covers all relevant 
information when describing a suspect.  
Amount of time 
How long did the witness have the suspect in view? 
under observation 
What was the distance between the witness and suspect?  

What was visibility like at the time? (including time of day, 
street lighting, etc) 
O Obstruction 
any obstructions to the view of the witness?  

Known or seen 
Had the witness ever seen the suspect before? If so, where 
and when? 
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A Any 
Did the witness have any special reason for remembering 
the suspect? (e.g., a distinguishing feature or peculiarity, 
or the nature of the incident itself) 

Time lapse 
How long has elapsed since the witness saw the suspect?  

Error or material 
Are there any errors or discrepancies between descriptions 
given in the first and subsequent accounts of the witness?  

It is important to examine how salient a person is within an 
event scene. Were there 5 armed robbers at the scene or 
only 1? A person can only process so much information at 
one time due to limited processing capacity. 
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Account: notes and statements 
Note taking 

When conducting interviews, you face the formidable task of both actively listening and 
formulating questions. Notes: 
•  help you later to write the statement or interview summary 
•  can be used to brief other members of the investigation team 
•  are not usually discoverable as they are made as part of the investigative process (do 
not disclose your notes but attach them to the file should defence counsel apply to the 
court for disclosure). 
If you do not take notes, you may: 
•  miss pieces of information 
•  make assumptions or misinterpret what was said  
•  use your own words or phrases rather than the interviewee’s. 
Be aware that taking to many notes can be a distraction for the interviewee and interfere 
with their concentration and ability to recall information. 
Your notebook is a record of your duties, what you did, who you spoke to, your 
observations, sketch plans or diagrams, initial interview notes and, if absolutely 
necessary, statements from interviewees.  
Courts readily accept that police may refer to notes made contemporaneously or as soon 
as practicable after the event when giving evidence. You must record relevant details 
about the interview in your notebook including: 
•  date, time and place of the interview 
•  interviewee's name and contact details. 
Notebook statements 
Only take statements in your notebook in exceptional circumstances, e.g. when it is 
impractical to conduct a formal interview or when the offence is minor in nature.  
In these circumstances record the entries as you would a written statement. Record 
these in full in notebook format before the statement commences. 
Job sheets 
Never record interviews in job sheet format (job sheets are official records, 
chronologically listed, of action taken, information gathered, people spoken to and 
exhibits seized).  
Use a jobsheet to record a conversation with a witness when: 
•  they have been spoken to and it is established that they do not need to be 
interviewed on a more substantial basis 
•  a pre-interview has been conducted and the decision is made to refer the matter to a 
specialist interviewer 
•  they refuse to be formally interviewed but have provided investigatively important 
Written statement 
Most witness interviews result in a written statement at the end of the interview to:  
•  establish evidence the witness can provide (for both investigative and prosecution 
processes) or further lines of enquiry 
•  refresh the witness's memory should the matter proceed to court 
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•  cross-examine the witness should they later give contradictory evidence.  
The interview record is a complete record of all information the witness can provide and 
should also include relevant inadmissible evidence. 
When to record a statement 
Obtain statements from anyone who can provide investigatively important information 
•  prospective witnesses  
•  witnesses of doubtful reliability 
•  any person who can give important information in major enquiries 
•  spouses of suspects and offenders 
•  associates of suspects 
•  likely defence witnesses (this helps cross-examination and can prevent witnesses 
from tailoring stories for the defence) 
•  people suspected of making false complaints 
•  people making complaints against the police. 
Procedure for recording written statements 
After the final summary follow this procedure to prepare a written statement.  
Step Action 

•  Use police form II: WS for all witness statements.  
•  Ideally, type the statement on the computer. Alternatively, handwrite on 
lined paper. (Use one side of the page only. Leave space at the top of each 
page for the file pin).  
•  Only record it in your notebook if the other methods are impractical. 

In the statement's heading enter: 
•  the witness's name, age and occupation 
•  date and time of the statement 
•  your name and station. 
(Do not repeat this information in the text of the statement itself).  

Using your notes, record the statement in chronological order and narrative 
form in the first person. (e.g. 'I noticed a yellow car outside the bank...'). Use 
the person’s own words, phrases and expressions. 
Cover all information the witness can provide in as much detail as possible 
•  time, date and place of the incident 
•  circumstances of the incident 
•  detail actions and descriptions of people involved or simply present 
•  details of what the individuals did and said 
•  descriptions of property stolen or damaged, and injuries caused 
•  a description of the suspect and how they may be identifiable 
•  any other information that may help to: 
-  locate the offender 
-  trace missing property 
-  corroborate or refute information 
•  further enquiries. 
Avoid using abbreviations, jargon or correcting the person's grammar or 
vocabulary. If the person uses slang or colloquialisms, ask them to clarify the 
meaning and write the explanation in the statement (so the intended meaning 
can be clearly understood). 
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Complete the coversheet with all the witness's personal details. If relevant ask 
the witness to sign consent for police access to personal information relating 
to the investigation.  Completing this task at the end of the interview will help 
prevent the de-personalisation of the interview through asking these 
administrative questions. 
To protect the witness's privacy do not disclose the coversheet without legal 
Do not: 
•  short cut this process as it will reduce the quality and quantity of information obtained 
•  start writing until after the witness has given their full account, i.e. an uninterrupted 
account has been given that has been probed for more information and they have 
answered all investigatively important questions. 
Endorsing the statement 
Once you have recorded everything take these steps to endorse the statement.  
Step Action 

Ask the interviewee to: 
•  read the statement (if this is not possible, follow procedure for witnesses 
not able to read
•  make and initial any corrections or additions and sign at the end of each 

•  Once the interviewee is satisfied with the content of the statement you 
must record the s162 Summary Proceedings Act 1957 declaration at the 
end of the statement: 
-  'Everything in this statement is true to the best of my knowledge and 
belief, and I made this statement knowing that it may be admitted as 
evidence for the purposes of a standard committal or at a committal 
hearing, and that I may be prosecuted for perjury if the statement is 
known by me to be false and is intended by me to mislead.' 
•  Invite the interviewee to sign the statement with their full signature below 
the declaration (if they refuse to sign, note this on the statement). 

You endorse the statement by: 
•  initialling and numbering the bottom of each page 
•  writing at the end of the statement: 
-  'Statement taken and signature witnessed by:' 
•  adding your full signature, QID and finish time. 
Witnesses not able to read and write  
If you are unsure about a witness's ability to read and write follow this procedure.  
Step Action 

Ask the witness to read out the first sentence or two to you. If they have 
difficulty, offer to read it to them or get a colleague to read it so there can be 
no allegation of distortion. 

Sit beside the witness so they can see where you are reading from.  

•  Before endorsing the statement write the following declaration: 
'This statement has been read to me. Everything in this statement is 
true to the best of my knowledge and belief, and I made this statement 
knowing that it may be admitted as evidence for the purposes of a 
standard committal or at a committal hearing, and that I may be 
prosecuted for perjury if the statement is known by me to be false and is 
intended by me to mislead.' 
•  Make a note about their reading ability in your notebook so you have a 
record if you are questioned in court.  
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The person reading the statement endorses the statement: 'I have read this 
statement to WITNESS'S NAME. I have asked them if they wish to make any 
alterations which I have done and initialled with READER'S NAME.' The reader 
signs off the statement and writes the time. 
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Closure and evaluation 
Closing interviews 

Whatever interview model has been used close interviews by:  
•  reviewing information obtained and confirming that everything has been covered 
(open a new account phase if any information has been omitted) 
•  asking if the witness has any questions and answering them appropriately 
•  thanking the witness for their time and effort 
•  advising that if they recall further information about the event after the interview, 
they should make a written note of what they recall and contact you 
•  preparing for future events (e.g. referral to support services, photographs, medical 
examination, court or further police involvement with the witness)  
•  providing them with your card or name and contact telephone number 
•  returning to building rapport or other neutral topics 
•  ending in a positive, polite and prospective manner. 
Evaluate information obtained 
After interviewing a witness: 
•  review the information obtained and consider: 
-  the impact of the information on the investigation 
-  what evidence there is in relation to offences, ingredients and potential defences 
-  descriptions of people, items and events that may be vital to the investigation 
-  the urgency and need for further enquiries 
•  consider what follow-up action is required to prepare the witness for any future court 
proceedings. It may be advantageous to keep in regular contact with the witness 
especially as court proceedings approach.  
Self-evaluate your own performance: 
•  what did you do well? 
•  what could you have done better? 
•  what areas can you develop? 
•  how will you acquire these skills? 
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Difficult to interview or reluctant witnesses  
If the witness is difficult to interview (compliant but troublesome to interview) or 
reluctant (is not forthcoming with information they have that may assist the 
investigation) follow the usual procedures for preparing for the interview and engaging 
with the witness. Note that your attitude to the witness will contribute to how they 
respond to you and determine the success or otherwise of the interview.  
Take particular care to: 
•  treat the witness with dignity and respect 
•  keep an open mind - do not assume they will be uncooperative  
•  be patient - it may be frustrating but the end result will make it worthwhile 
•  empathise with their position 
•  be non-judgmental - this is likely to result in further resistance. 
Witness's right to decline to be interviewed 
Witness interviews are always conducted with consent so a witness is not obliged to 
answer your questions unless there is a statutory obligation (which only exists in special 
circumstances e.g. under the Land Transport Act 1998). This means it is the witness's 
right to decline to be interviewed and you cannot and must not force someone to speak 
with you.    
Procedure when witness refuses to talk 
Follow this procedure if the witness initially refuses to talk to you or be formally 
Step Action 

•  Spend time building rapport with the witness.  This may take several 
•  Provide the witness with an outline of the offence(s) under investigation, 
and explain the potential importance of the information they may have and 
the processes involved with the interview.  Give the witness enough 
information to make an informed choice as to whether to speak to you, but 
not provide them with specific details about the allegations or what they 
are believed to have witnessed.   

•  Ask them why they do not want to be interviewed, and  
•  Try to address their concerns. If they refuse to tell you their concerns, 
consider what they might be (from your planning and preparation) and 
address these. 

If the witness then agrees to be interviewed, interview them as you would any 
other witness.  If they are not forthcoming with information when using the 
free recall model then use the conversation management model. 

If the witness still refuses to be interviewed but will talk with you informally 
about the offence, obtain as much detail as you can from them using open 
and, if required, closed questions.  

If the witness refuses to talk to you at all, that is their right. Avoid over 
persistence and: 
•  ensure you get their full details so they can be summonsed if required 
•  proceed to the closure phase of the interview. 
6 Closure: 
•  close the interview as usual and provide them with your contact details 
should they change their mind or have any queries later 
•  record in your notebook or on a jobsheet: 
-  any information they have provided about the offence 
-  the reasons given for refusing to be interviewed 
-  your opinion on why they refused. 
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A detailed account of what was said is vital as the witness may later give 
contradictory evidence or be called by the defence. Should this eventuate 
your record may be needed for cross examination. 
Using the conversation management model  
This table details the steps that should be completed when using the conversation 
management model with a reluctant witness who is not forthcoming with information 
when using the free recall model (you should already have covered the ground rules with 
the witness as usual).  
Interview stage  
Free report 
•  Initiate a free report using an open TEDS type question. Ask 
the witness to give an account of everything they know 
about the matter under investigation.  
•  Allow for pauses and do not interrupt the witness.  
•  Actively listen using minimal prompts that do not go beyond 
the witness’s account.  
•  Take notes of areas you wish to obtain more information 
•  If appropriate, get the witness to draw a sketch plan. 
•  If more detail is required go through another free report. 
Identify and expand 
•  Break down the witness's account into manageable topics. 
witness topics 
•  Systematically expand each topic of the witness's account by 
obtaining a free report with open TEDS type questions. When 
open questions are no longer fruitful use probing 5Wh + How 
questions if necessary.  
•  The extent you use each question type is dictated by the 
level of the witness's cooperation. Encourage the witness to 
do all the talking by using open questions. Be patient, but if 
one questioning technique is unsuccessful, try another.  
•  The level of cooperation may improve during the interview 
as the witness becomes used to answering questions. The 
witness may only initially answer closed questions but as the 
interview progresses become more forthcoming with 
information. In these circumstances, try reverting back to 
open TEDS type questions. This will encourage them to do 
more talking and save you time. 
•  Take notes of what is said to aid your memory when 
preparing a written statement. 
•  Repeat this process until you have covered all topics. 
Giving sparing information or not telling the truth 
If you believe the witness is: 
•  being sparing with information, use probing 5Wh + How 
questions to elicit all the details you require  
•  not telling the truth, use open TEDS type questions as much 
as possible, Note inconsistencies and deal with them at the 
interview's end.   
•  Repeat the above process covering all investigatively 
important topics
important topics not yet been addressed. 
•  Consider information obtained and the witness's current 
demeanour. If appropriate, seek an explanation for any 
•  Alternatively, consider holding back and conducting a second 
interview after more enquiries have been conducted.  
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Witnesses that are difficult to interview 
Some witnesses may be more troublesome to interview because they have difficulty 
understanding what is required or continuously go off topic.  In these cases you should:   
•  be patient. Some witnesses involve a lot more time and effort. Consider why they are 
difficult to interview including whether they require special consideration and if you 
should delay the interview.  Some may go off topic because they find it upsetting to 
discuss the alleged offence(s) and others may simply not understand what is expected 
of them.  Always bear in mind that different people remember things in different ways 
and what appears to be going off topic to you, may simply be the witness retrieving 
the information in the most effective way for them.  
•  consider re-explaining the ground rules, they may simply not understand what is 
required of them. 
•  keep using open questions but set clear parameters and re-direct the witness if they 
go off the topic. If this does not work introduce more probing questions. Be careful 
not to ask leading questions. 
•  a witness may not remember all the details of what happened, so do not assume that 
they know everything. If you keep questioning them when they do not know the 
answer they may make up information in an attempt to please you or get frustrated 
with you and the interview process. 
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Witnesses requiring special consideration 
Defining special consideration 

A witness requires special consideration when additional measures need to be taken at 
interview to maximise the accuracy and completeness of the information obtained due 
•  their personal characteristics 
•  the circumstances of the offending. 
Decisions about special consideration should be made on a case by case basis.  No two 
witnesses are the same and there maybe one or a variety of reasons why they require 
special consideration and, as a result, what additional procedures are adopted.   
Always take into account your responsibilities under the Victims Rights Act 2002 by 
treating all witness's compassionately and catering for their well-being.  
Personal characteristics 
The personal characteristics that should be considered include the witness's: 
•  age or maturity 
•  physical, mental, or psychological condition 
•  physical, intellectual, psychological or psychiatric impairment 
•  linguistic or cultural background and religious beliefs. 
Examples include: children and the elderly, intoxicated witnesses, traumatised victims, 
witnesses with learning disabilities or mental health problems, victims of family violence 
and sexual assault, and witnesses with English as a second language. 
Due to any of these factors the witness may be more vulnerable than others and find the 
investigation and prosecution process stressful or even traumatic.  Some may also be 
more susceptible to memory or communication difficulties resulting in the diminished 
quantity or quality of information provided.  Special measures need to be taken to 
support these witnesses and ensure the most complete and accurate information is 
obtained for the investigation.   
Circumstances of the offending 
The circumstances of the offending that should be considered include: 
•  the nature of the offending 
•  fear of intimidation 
•  the investigative importance of the witness 
•  relationship to any party involved in the investigation. 
It is especially important to maximise the accuracy and completeness of information 
from witnesses to serious offences and those that are central to the investigation (i.e. 
investigatively important).  Examples include: persons that find the body in a homicide, 
victims of sexual or other serious assaults, victims of hate crimes, victims of recidivist 
family violence offenders, witnesses who may later become suspects, eyewitnesses to 
serious offences where the identity of the offender is unknown, e.g. robbery.   
All sexual assault cases should be treated with special consideration. 
Giving evidence in alternative ways 
The Evidence Act 2006 recognises some witnesses require special consideration because 
of their personal characteristics or the circumstances of the offending. Section 103 of the 
Act allows the prosecution to apply to the court for the witness to give their evidence in 
an alternative way if certain grounds exist. The Judge may direct the witness to give 
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evidence in-chief and be cross-examined in the ordinary or an alternative way. This 
includes playing a visual recording of the witness's evidence in chief.  If you believe your 
witness may be eligible for giving evidence in alternative ways, complete initial action 
procedures for special consideration witnesses.  
Evidence Act useful for determining if special consideration required 
Section 103(3)(a) outlines the grounds a judge must consider when deciding if an 
alternative method of giving evidence should be used. These grounds are useful for 
determining whether the witness requires special consideration when being interviewed 
during investigations: 
•  age or maturity of the witness 
•  physical, intellectual, psychological, or psychiatric impairment of the witness 
•  trauma suffered by the witness 
•  witness's fear of intimidation 
•  linguistic or cultural background or religious beliefs of the witness 
•  nature of the proceeding 
•  nature of the evidence the witness is expected to give 
•  relationship of the witness to any party to the proceeding 
•  absence or likely absence of the witness from New Zealand 
•  any other ground likely to promote the purpose of the Act. 
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Before starting the interview process 
Initial actions for all investigators 

You must identify as early as possible if the witness needs special consideration.  
This table outlines initial actions to take relating to witnesses needing special 
consideration before the investigative interview commences.  
Step Action 

Decide if you will conduct the interview or whether a specialist 
interviewer should be engaged (e.g. when an interview needs to be visually 
recorded or the witness is a victim of sexual assault). Make this decision in 
consultation with your supervisor. Even if you will not be conducting the 
interview you must still complete initial actions in a manner that maximises 
the quality of the evidence obtained.  

If it is appropriate for you to conduct the interview, follow initial actions for 
If a specialist interviewer is being engaged, complete the remaining actions 
outlined in this table, unless they are delegated to another squad.  

Gain a brief outline of events by: 
•  planning what you are going to say to the witness and how you will say it 
•  asking no more questions than is necessary (use open TEDS type, not 
leading questions) to gain an understanding of what has happened, when 
and where it occurred, and who was involved to: 
-  provide first aid or medical attention 
-  preserve scenes or physical evidence 
-  determine the seriousness of the offence 
-  secure witnesses or identify and detain suspected offenders 
-  support the witness.  
•  listening to what the witness is telling you and not interrupting 
•  considering while interacting with the witness, what special measures they 
may need at interview, (e.g. need an interpreter, professional support 
person, or carer). 
Always remember a witness may be interviewed later on a more substantive 
basis. Take care not to contaminate the witness's evidence before that 
substantive interview. 

Accurately record all discussions and ensure you have recorded the 
witness's full personal details and, if applicable, their carer.  
As soon as possible, record in your notebook any discussions with the witness, 
including questions you asked. Include details to assist identify special needs 
the witness may have during interview. (This helps other officers taking over 
responsibility for the investigation, and may be required during court 

Inform a supervisor of your actions. The supervisor will ensure that all 
appropriate action has been taken, and that the investigating officer or a 
specialist interviewer is aware of all the circumstances. 
Initial actions for interviewer 
Before you interview a witness requiring special consideration, decide what additional 
interviewing procedures are necessary for the witness you are interviewing (e.g. family 
violence victims or witnesses with different cultural or linguistic backgrounds). 
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Background checks 
Do background checks and, if possible, talk to family members or relevant health 
professionals to find out whether: 
•  full and fair communication with the witness is possible 
•  they understand the nature of and reason for the interview. 
If you believe full communication is not possible: 
•  discuss this with your supervisor 
•  consider referral to a specialist interviewer or request assistance of an appropriately 
qualified medical expert (e.g., a Duly Authorised Officer for a mentally disordered 
Should the interview be delayed? 
In some cases (e.g. when the witness is intoxicated, tired or traumatised) you may need 
to delay the interview until the witness is in a state suitable for interview and you are 
fully prepared. (You want to gain as much accurate information from them as possible).  
Ensure you get their full details and any information required for initial action if you 
believe it would be advantageous to delay the interview.  
Deciding what interviewing procedures to adopt  
The usual procedures for interviewing witnesses using the PEACE framework apply whe
interviewing witnesses requiring special consideration.  
However, you may need to vary your interview approach or adopt special procedures to 
take account of witness's individual needs and to: 
•  get complete, accurate and reliable information from the witness 
•  minimise the trauma experienced by the witness 
•  provide the best evidence for court proceedings. 
Interview model 
Free recall is usually the appropriate interview model to use when interviewing witnesses 
requiring special consideration because it minimises the risk of influencing the witness.  
If the witness is difficult or reluctant, consider using the conversation management 

Special procedures for some witness categories  
Categories of witnesses requiring special consideration, which need special procedures or 
variations to the usual interviewing techniques include witnesses who: 
•  are intoxicated 
•  suffer from a physical, intellectual, psychological or psychiatric impairment 
•  have suffered trauma 
•  fears intimidation 
•  have different linguistic or cultural backgrounds 
•  are family violence victims 
•  are children or young people 
•  are investigatively important witnesses
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Support persons 

Having a support person present can have many benefits such as: 
•  reducing the witness's anxiety 
•  ensuring the witness's well-being and that they understand procedures  
•  aiding your understanding of the witness's needs 
•  providing support to the witness leading up to court proceedings. 
These benefits help you develop a working relationship with the witness and help to gain 
a complete, accurate and reliable account. 
When to use a support person 
When deciding whether to use a support person, ask the witness for their preference and 
•  the witnesses' characteristics, and 
•  whether having a support person present will benefit the witness and/or the 
Always consider using a support person when the witness: 
•  is under the age of 18 years or very elderly  
•  suffers from disability, disorder or other impairment 
•  is traumatised 
•  is a victim of sexual assault 
•  fears intimidation 
•  comes from a cultural background or has religious beliefs that may present a barrier 
to communication or their understanding of procedures 
•  is a victim to or witness of a serious offence 
•  is closely related to the suspect (although bear in mind the relationship of the support 
person to the suspect and whether they are likely to create barriers to the 
If a witness falls into one of the categories above but you think it is inappropriate to use 
a support person discuss this with you supervisor.  
Appropriate support person 
An appropriate support person is someone who: 
•  is an adult (of or over the age of 18 years) 
•  is not a suspect or witness in the matter under investigation 
•  you believe will not attempt to pervert the course of justice  
•  is available within a reasonable period of time (be flexible, to get the most out of the 
witness it may be preferable to wait for someone they feel supported by). 
Appropriate support people include a parent or guardian, carer, family or whänau 
member, close friend, mental health support worker, rape crisis counsellor.  
Specialist support persons 
Enlist the help of a specialist support person with: 
•  all adult sexual assault victims 
•  witnesses who suffer from some form of impairment (refer to the section on 
impairment to see who is appropriate) 
•  witnesses that are extremely traumatised. 
Witness usually chooses support person 
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Usually the support person should be someone of their choice but in some circumstances 
it may be appropriate for you to choose, for example, with a mentally disordered person 
in care their mental health worker may be the most appropriate person.  
Support persons who are also witnesses 
Only in exceptional circumstances should the support person also be a witness in the 
matter under investigation i.e. a support person is required and no one else is available 
that can provide the witness with the support they require. In these circumstances 
interview the support person before interviewing the witness and explain they must not 
take part in the interview while acting as a support person.  
Role of a support person 
Support person's role during interviews  
This table outlines the role of support people during interviews. 
Interview phase  
Support person's role  
Engage and explain  
On the arrival of the support person, explain to them that 
their role is to: 
•  provide support to the witness and ensure their well-being 
•  ensure the witness understands what is happening 
•  not prompt the witness or answer questions on their behalf. 
•  explain the interview process to the witness in front of the 
support person  
•  allow the support person to spend some time alone with 
the witness to discuss the interview process before 
commencement of the interview 
•  answer any questions they have about the interview 
•  If a specialist support person is present speak with them 
alone about the witness's needs and decide what is an 
appropriate interview process. 
•  Ask the witness what role they want the support person to 
take - whether they want them in the interview, to monitor 
the interview (if this practicable) or to wait in a room 
If the support person is present during the interview: 
•  inform them they are not to prompt the witness or answer 
questions on behalf their behalf. 
Otherwise, arrange for the support person to: 
•  monitor the interview from another room if the facilities are 
available and this is the witness's preference, or  
•  wait in a nearby room until the interview's completion.. 
•  Ensure a support person is present during the interview's 
closure. If the matter proceeds to court the witness will 
require ongoing support.  
•  Let them know of any counselling referrals made and 
possible investigation outcomes.  
•  If a written statement is prepared from the interview, 
include the details of the support person and get them to 
endorse the statement as well.  They should sign the 
statement: 'This statement was made in the presence of...' 
•  Keep the witness (or carer) updated, explain processes, 
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brief them for court and arrange for counselling.  
When a support person should be present in the room during interview 
Regulation 6 of the Evidence Regulations 2007 stipulates when a support person should 
be present in the room during interview.  This advice equally applies to all other 
(1) A person may be present at an interview to support a witness if the interviewer 
considers that- 
(a) it is in the interests of the witness; and 
(b) the person is an appropriate person to support the witness. 
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Intoxicated witnesses 
Consider the best time to conduct interview  

When witnesses have consumed alcohol or drugs it is important you consider when to 
conduct the interview.  
Take these factors into account: 
•  whether full and fair communication is possible 
•  the degree to which their recall was impaired 
•  the practicality of delaying the interview 
•  the impact on the investigation of delaying the interview 
•  the seriousness of the offence. 
Witness must understand the reason for interview 
Do not conduct a formal interview if the level of intoxication prevents the witness from 
understanding the nature of and reason for the interview. 
If you decide the witness is too intoxicated to be interviewed you should still attempt to 
obtain brief details about the event so that initial action can be completed.  
Procedures when interviewing intoxicated people  
Follow the usual interviewing procedures with these variations when you are interviewing 
a witness who has consumed drugs or alcohol.  
Interview phase  
Actions/ factors to note  
Planning and preparation 
•  If a person is heavily intoxicated, assess if it is 
appropriate to interview them. If it would be unfair, 
delay the interview until a more suitable time. 
•  Consider what interview model to use as you would 
with any other witness. 
Engage and explain  
•  Ask open questions about a neutral topic or 
background to encourage the witness to start talking. 
•  Evaluate their responses to determine if they 
understand what is happening and will be able to 
provide complete, accurate and reliable information. 
•  Explain the interview process and again, ensure they 
understand what is happening. 
•  Reassess whether now is the most appropriate time to 
conduct the interview. 
•  When addressing investigatively important topics ask 
the witness: 
-  what substance they have consumed, the quantity 
and over what period of time 
-  about their level of intoxication now and at the time 
of the offence 
-  to explain how they were affected. 
•  It may also be relevant to ask about the levels of 
intoxication of people they were with who are also 
witnesses (victims, witnesses or suspects). 
Closure and evaluation  
•  Close and evaluate the interview as usual. 
•  Contact the person again when they are sober to ask if 
they have remembered any additional information. 
(Even low levels of alcohol and drug consumption can 
impede recall). 
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link to page 22 link to page 22 Physical, intellectual, psychological or psychiatric 

A number of physical, intellectual, psychological or psychiatric impairments may affect a 
person's ability to perform as a witness.  Impairments can also make the investigation 
process more difficult or stressful for the witness.    
It is important you identify witnesses affected by impairments who require special 
consideration and take appropriate steps to: 
•  support the witness and ensure their well-being 
•  ensure they understand what is happening. 
The individual characteristics of the witnesses who might fall into this category should 
always be taken into account. 
Impairment examples  
Examples of people with physical, intellectual, psychological or psychiatric impairment 
include those:  
•  suffering from a mental disorder 
•  with significant impairment of intelligence and social functioning (e.g. learning 
•  with physical disability or are suffering from a physical disorder. 
Possible indicators of impairment 
This table lists some indicators that may help you identify a witness with an impairment. 
The witness... 
•  has difficulty or is unable to: 
-  read or write 
-  remember their date of birth, age, address, telephone 
-  tell the time or know the day of the week, where they are 
and who they are. 
•  appears: 
-  eager to please or to repeat what you say 
-  over excited or exuberant 
-  uninterested or lethargic 
-  confused by what is said or happening 
-  physically withdrawn, aggressive or violent 
-  expresses strange ideas 
-  not to understand certain expressions. 
•  has difficulty communicating, for example: 
-  needs assistance or interpretation 
-  doesn't understand questions and instructions 
-  speech is difficult to understand or the witness has no or 
limited speech 
-  uses signs or gestures to communicate. 
•  may: 
-  respond inappropriately or inconsistently to questions 
-  appear to focus on irrelevant small points but not the 
important points or have a short attention span. 
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•  may: 
-  have unusual eye appearance  
-  angle head/eyes for viewing 
-  fail to search visually for people 
-  hesitate in movement or be reluctant to move in an 
unfamiliar environment 
-  have uncontrollable muscle movement. 
•  may have social circumstances indicating impairment, e.g.: 
-  live in a group or residential home, or with a carer 
-  take certain prescription medicines. 
Identifying witnesses with an impairment 
Some impairment indicators are easily identified. Others may not be immediately 
apparent and behaviour may not always mean what you assume. There are common 
misconceptions. For example, people who are unable to read do not all have learning 
difficulties, not all people with communication difficulties are deaf and not all children 
feel supported by their carers. 
Take the ‘context’ into account when considering the significance of the witness’s 
behaviour, physical characteristics and social circumstances. Some individuals’ behaviour 
may be affected by outside influences, such as drugs, alcohol, anger, fear or frustration. 
A distressed person trying to communicate by sign language may appear aggressive to 
the unaware. 
Witnesses own views about impairment  
Not all adults with impairment require special consideration or wish to be treated 
differently. It will depend on the nature of the person’s impairment and whether it 
affects their ability to perform as a witness. 
Consider whether the witness has willingly identified themselves as impaired, or is 
hesitant to accept that label. Identification of impairment does not rest solely on the 
witness's views but their views are important. The court needs to take them into account 
when determining witnesses' eligibility for special measures. 
Factors affecting recall  
Intellectual, psychological or psychiatric impairments may affect the witness's cognitive 
processes and hence their ability to recall information.  Generally, this affects the 
completeness of information rather than the accuracy and the witness may give less 
detail than desirable creating errors of omission.  These witnesses are also often more 
vulnerable to suggestions, compliance and acquiescence, thereby making them more 
susceptible to the consequences or interviewer error (such as leading the witness 
through suggestive questioning of non-verbal encouragement cues).  It is therefore 
essential to build rapport, explain the interview process and requirements of the witness 
clearly, and use appropriate questioning techniques.   
The quality of the information provided is not usually compromised, with the exception of 
those suffering from a mental disorder that are in a state of psychosis, i.e. suffering from 
delusions or hallucinations and cannot distinguish between reality and imagination.  This 
however, does not exclude them from giving reliable evidence.    
Unless a witness with a physical impairment also suffers from other types of impairment, 
their recall will not be adversely affected.  They may however, have communication 
difficulties and suffer from other health problems that require special measures to be 
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Err on the side of caution if unsure 
If you are unsure if a witness is impaired, err on the side of caution when interviewing 
them and follow procedures to help them provide complete, accurate and reliable 
Procedures when interviewing witnesses with impairments 
Follow the special consideration interviewing procedures with these variations when you 
interview a witness identified as having physical, intellectual, psychological or psychiatric 
impairments, depending on their individual needs and circumstances.  
Interview phase  Factors to consider/ actions to take 
Planning and 
•  Planning and preparation is vital to the success of the 
interview.  Extra time and care should be taken at this phase 
when the witness suffers from some form of impairment.   
•  Establish the nature of the impairment and measures needed 
to assist you obtain complete, accurate and reliable 
•  Consider whether a specialist interviewer who can visually 
record the interview is required to maximise the accuracy and 
completeness of the information gained.  A specialist should 
always be used if an alternative way of giving evidence (such 
as using a video interview as evidence) will minimise the stress 
on the witness and provide the best evidence.  
•  Ascertain if the witness is in contact with a professional, e.g. 
doctor, nurse, social worker, community mental health worker 
or legal representative, who might be able to assist them. 
These people may: 
-  be appropriate support persons through interviews and 
judicial processes 
-  provide details on the witness's impairment and how it may 
impact on their ability to provide complete, accurate and 
reliable information. 
•  People suffering from a mental disorder or learning disability 
may require an early psychiatric or psychological assessment 
to establish how best to support them at interview. Decide this 
with your supervisor and where appropriate the prosecutor. 
(Note: reports may have to be disclosed to defence prior to 
•  Consider and seek advice when necessary about the best way 
of communicating with the witness (e.g. cerebral palsy victims 
lack muscle co-ordination, and side effects of medication can 
result in restlessness, shaking or loss of concentration) 
•  Decide what communications aids are required.   
•  Decide what is needed to manage access and personal care 
requirements with witnesses who have a physical impairment. 
•  Decide the best time and location for interview.  Take into 
account the witness's needs including the effects of medication, 
when they are most alert and access to the location. 
•  Consider several shorter interviews may be required with 
breaks for rest or refreshment. 
•  Establish if the witness needs a carer, support person or 
interpreter/intermediary at the interview. 
Engage and 
•  Witnesses not used to speaking to strangers might need to 
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spend time getting to know you before they are ready /willing 
to be interviewed. Consider meeting(s) with a witness prior to 
the investigative interview and spending an extended period of 
time to establish rapport (even over several sessions). 
•  Focus on the witness as a person rather than on their 
impairment.  If you feel uncomfortable, the witness will notice 
and may become uneasy.  Plan the interview so you know what 
to expect, monitor your own behaviour and try to act as normal 
as possible. 
•  Be reassuring and empathetic but not demeaning or 
•  Let the witness determine personal space and be prepared for 
the possibility that they may prefer to sit closer to you or 
further away. 
•  When explaining the ground rules to the interview ensure you 
-  that if you ask a question and the witness does not 
understand or know the answer, they should say so 
-  if you misunderstand what they have said or summarise 
what has been said incorrectly, then they should point this 
-  it is their interview and they can take a break at anytime 
-  that you were not present at event(s), do not know what 
occurred and providing detail is important. 
•  Use the free recall model. 
•  Be aware that witnesses with impairments tend to provide less 
information when giving a free report. 
•  Let the witness set the pace.  Witnesses with impairments may 
be slower at understanding and thinking than other witnesses.  
In these circumstances you should: 
-  be patient and avoid interrupting 
-  slow down your speech rate 
-  allow the witness extra time to take in what has been said 
and respond 
-  avoid immediately posing the next question  
-  avoid filling in the answers for the witness  
•  Allow the person to tell their story in their own words (it may 
take longer than usual).  They may be forthcoming with 
peripheral details and hesitant to discuss more central matters.  
Avoid the temptation of prompting the witnesses to get straight 
to the point, rather use active listening including silence and 
pauses, and be patient when the witness provides apparently 
irrelevant information. 
•  Witnesses with an impairment are more likely to be tainted by 
inappropriate questioning, so take extra care to use the correct 
questioning techniques.  Speak slowly and keep questions 
simple and in a language the witness understands. 
•  Avoid 'yes'/'no' type questions as the witness may have a 
tendency to acquiesce and want to help and answer 'yes'. 
•  Use on-verbal language to supplement your communication 
when necessary.  This should be done in a neutral fashion as 
the witness may try to be overly helpful and offer responses in 
an attempt to please the interviewer.    
•  Consider factors relating to the witness's impairment that may 
be relevant to their ability to recall information 
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•  Use more breaks if the witness tires easily. 
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Specialist interviews of witnesses with impairments 

Interviewers of witnesses with impairments need to recognise and work with their 
capabilities rather than their limitations.   
This section provides useful guidelines for specialists interviewing different types of 
witnesses with impairments. Follow these guidelines in addition to the general guidance 
for witnesses with physical, intellectual, psychological or psychiatric impairment. 
Physical disability 
In addition to the procedures for interviewing witnesses with impairments, be aware the 
witness might: 
•  require an interpreter, intermediary and/or communication aids.  Discuss with the 
witness or carer to ascertain communication needs. 
•  require computer or other electronic communication equipment accessed via fingers, 
or by pointing to letters or symbols on a board, or by other means. (It is important 
that witnesses move or point themselves: third party involvement is likely to lead to 
evidence being ruled inadmissible) 
•  benefit from a series of short interviews spaced out with periods of rest and 
•  require an extended period of rapport building over several sessions. 
Learning impairments  
In addition to the procedures for interviewing witnesses with physical, intellectual, 
psychological or psychiatric impairment follow these guidelines when interviewing 
witnesses with learning impairments. 
Type of learning 
Be aware the witness might... 
Learning disabilities  
•  suffer from one or a variety of a number of learning 
disabilities all of which require a response tailored to the 
needs of the individual 
•  come from an environment where they are dependent on 
others and used to waiting for 'permission' to do anything.  
Try to establish their level of independence and encourage 
them to actively participate in the interview 
•  discuss with a career to ascertain the best approach to 
•  be frightened of emotion, shouting or close contact 
•  be fearful of unfamiliar stimuli, including unknown people, 
noise, colour 
•  not make direct eye contact 
•  benefit from the interviewer being calm, controlled and 
Downs syndrome 
•  be disturbed or anxious if unknown people (particularly 
authority figures) question them (and if there is shouting 
or aggression) 
•  be affected by noise. If they have a hearing loss they 
might, for example, confuse similar sounding words 
(particularly important in respect of when, where, what, 
and who questions). 
•  if they are an older person, suffer from dementia causing 
cognitive impairment. 
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Mental disorders 
When interviewing witnesses with all mental disorders (including schizophrenia or other 
delusional disorder, anxiety, depression) follow the procedures for interviewing witnesses 
with impairments, and also be aware the witness might: 
•  be in compulsory care under an order from the Mental Health (Compulsory 
Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992, refer to section 2 for a definition 
•  require support only at certain times due to the fluctuating nature of mental disorders 
(this also makes it important to visually record the interview so the witness's 
condition at time of interview is captured) 
•  require assessment by an expert (preferably the witness's current psychiatrist or 
psychologist) to determine the exact nature of the disorder and likely impact on 
ability to provide complete, accurate and reliable information 
•  also suffered from alcohol or drug abuse that can aggravate symptoms 
•  be on medication which should be taken into consideration when determining the best 
time for interview 
•  be: 
-  vulnerable to stress especially when recalling traumatic events 
-  confused, suffer from memory loss or impaired reasoning 
-  suspicious or aggressive 
-  want to please the interviewer and/or be susceptible to suggestion. 
Take these steps when preparing to interview. 
Step Action 

Discuss with a professional who knows the witness their likely behaviour and 
develop a strategy (with the professional) to maximise the outcomes of the 

Consider using the professional or other person involved in the care of the 
witness as a support person.   

Spend time to properly prepare the witness for interview by reducing 
confusion, emotional distress, and anxiety. 
Additional guidance for specific mental disorders 
Consider these additional factors when interviewing witnesses with these specific types 
of mental disorders.   
Type of mental disorder  
Be aware (in addition to factors outlined above) 
that the witness might… 
Schizophrenia, delusions, 
give unreliable evidence through delusional memories or 
by reporting hallucinatory experiences that are accurate 
as far as they are concerned, but bear no relationship to 
reality (this does not preclude them from also giving 
reliable information).  
Challenges to these abnormal ideas may cause extreme 
reactions and /or distress.  Be sensitive and non-
judgemental in trying to identify the components of the 
account that may be delusions or hallucinations verses 
those that may be based on reality. 
Anxiety disorders 
•  have phobias or panic attacks or unjustified fears of 
persecution if suffering anxiety through fear of 
authority, exposure or retribution  
•  wish to please, tell you what they believe you want to 
hear or fabricate imaginary experiences to 
compensate for loss of memory 
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•  may give evidence coloured by feelings of guilt, 
helplessness or hopelessness if they are depressed. 
Personality disorder 
•  if the person has anti-social or borerline traits may 
have a range of behaviours including deliberately 
giving false information.    
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Children and young persons  

Special procedures should be used for children or young persons under the age of 18 
years (as per Evidence Act 2006 definition of a child). 
Exercise patience, care and skill during interviews of children or young persons to ensure 
their potential as reliable witnesses is not lost.   
You must also comply with Children, Young Persons and Their Families Act 1989.
Procedure for interviewing  
This table emphasises actions in the usual interviewing procedures important when 
interviewing children and young people. It also outlines additional matters to consider.  
Interview phase  
Actions/factors to note  
Planning and preparation: 
Identity factors 
witness profile  
•  Age and maturity. 
•  Cognitive abilities (e.g. memory, attention, concept of 
•  Linguistic abilities (e.g. understanding and use of 
spoken language). 
•  Family members/carers and nature of the relationship. 
•  Potential support persons. 
•  Routines - school and other activities. 
•  Current or previous contact with public services. 
Current state  
•  Any significant stress recently experienced by the 
witness and/or family (e.g. bereavement, sickness, 
domestic violence, job loss, moving house, divorce and 
so on)? 
•  Whether currently in a safe environment.  
•  Does the witness understand the significance of the 
interview? If you are concerned they do not, discuss 
with your supervisor and consider enlisting the 
assistance of a  child forensic interviewer who has 
specialist training in interviewing children. 
Planning and preparation: 
•  Consider whether the interview should be conducted 
practical arrangements  
on video recording by a child forensic interviewer. A 
specialist should be used in all cases where using a 
video recorded interview as an alternative way of 
evidence is likely (for more information refer to 'Types 
of witnesses requiring specialist interviewers'). 
•  Always consider using an appropriate support person.  
•  Advise the principal in advance if you are conducting 
the interview at school. 
Engage and explain  
•  If practicable and appropriate contact the witness's 
parent, guardian or other caregiver if they are not the 
person nominated as the support person. Inform them 
the child or young person is with you and you want to 
interview them as a witness.  
•  Ask the caregiver not to question or discuss the 
incident with the witness. Tell them to listen and take 
notes of anything the witness brings up about the 
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•  If using a support person 
-  ask the witness to nominate a support person 
-  arrange for the support person to attend the 
•  Brief the support person about their role, the 
interview's purpose and processes involved, in the 
witness's presence.  
•  Explain the usual ground rules for the interview.  
Account - free recall  
•  Remind the witness about the ground rules established 
during the engage and explain phase.  
•  Take extra care to follow the correct questioning 
techniques. Repeat until all witness topics have been 
expanded and investigatively important topics covered.  
•  Avoid 'yes'/'no' questions as children and young 
persons have a tendency to want to help and answer 
Final summary and written  •  In the statement's second paragraph include the 
support persons name and relationship to the witness. 
(e.g. I am talking to Constable Brown about a fight I 
saw happening. Also here is my mother, Jane White).  
•  Invite the witness to make any corrections or 
additions, and endorse the statement as 'true and 
•  Invite the support person to witness the statement 
(e.g. Witnessed by: Jane White). 
•  Tell the witness (or their carer if it is not appropriate 
for the child because of their age) that if they recall 
further information after the interview to make a 
written note of it and to contact you.  
•  Advise the carer not to question the witness. If the 
witness volunteers information they should just note 
what was said and contact you. 
•  Conduct closure in the usual manner. 
•  Do not solely rely upon cues from the child or young 
person's behaviour as guides to the truthfulness or 
otherwise of their statements. 
•  Conduct an interview evaluation in the usual manner. 
Support people  
Encourage the child or young person to nominate an appropriate adult family member 
(e.g. parent, guardian or caregiver) as their support person. They may have valuable 
information about the child or young person's background and cognitive development.  
However, be aware that the child or young person may behave differently around family 
members and not provide all the information they know. If you are concerned a parent 
or guardian will influence the witness enlist another support person. 
You should only decline the support person nominated by the child or young person if 
they are not an appropriate person, e.g. may attempt to pervert the course of justice or 
are a witness.  
Children as witnesses 
You can interview a child of any age but when deciding whether to interview or call them 
as a witness the child's welfare should be taken into account. 
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Children tend to recall less information than adults but they are just as accurate.  
Children are no more prone to telling lies than adults but are more susceptible to 
suggestion and the use of leading questions should be stringently avoided.  
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Witnesses who have suffered trauma  

People respond to stress in different ways and you should always be mindful that the 
witness may be suffering from trauma. Examples of types of witnesses that may be 
suffering from trauma include victims and witnesses to serious offences. 
Two key planning issues 
There are two key planning issues to consider when interviewing witnesses who are 
•  when is the best time to conduct the interview  
•  whether to have a support person present.  
Stress or trauma can interfere with the process of remembering.  There is no set rule as 
to when to interview a traumatised witness.  Rather you should ask the witness when is 
the best time for them.  
Special procedures exist for interviewing adult victims of sexual assault. 
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Different linguistic or cultural background or religious 

Different backgrounds 
Witnesses come from different linguistic, cultural or religious backgrounds. English may 
not be their first language and they may behave differently and have different needs at 
Be sensitive to the witness's needs and if necessary, seek advice from someone else of 
the same culture or religion (e.g. a Police member with the same background or who is 
an expert in that area - Iwi liaison officer or Asian crime investigator), an interpreter or a 
person known to the witness.  Note the interpreter can only provide information about 
additional measures for effective communication, common customs or usage and should 
not be treated as a cultural expert. 
Using interpreters 
Use a suitably qualified interpreter when you consider the witness: 
•  does not have sufficient proficiency in the English language to understand and convey 
their answers clearly if the interview if conducted in English 
•  has a communication disability, e.g. a hearing impairment. 
If English is not the first language of the witness, ask them what language they prefer to 
be interviewed in.  
Hearing impaired witnesses  
If the witness is hearing impaired, contact the New Zealand Deaf Association (they offer 
a 24 hour interpreter service). 
Procedures when using interpreters at interview 
This table outlines how the usual interview procedures should be varied when 
interpreters are used during interviews. 
Interview phase  
Planning and preparation  •  Establish if an interpreter is required. Find out the 
country they come from and the exact language they 
speak (e.g. a Chinese person may speak Mandarin, 
Cantonese or other various languages).  
•  Arrange an interpreter using the contracted interpreting 
service or your station's list of interpreters.  Provide 
them with: 
-  an outline of the nature of the incident and the 
reason for interview (e.g. victim of a sexual assault, 
or an adult family member who is an eyewitness to 
inter-partner violence). 
•  Ascertain if the interpreter is an appropriate person to 
assist; they must be: 
-  able to write and speak the language of the witness  
-  impartial and independent.   
•  If they know any of the parties involved in the 
investigation (including the witness), they should only 
be used in exceptional circumstances, i.e. no one else is 
available and the interview cannot be delayed.  The 
extent of the connection should also be taken into 
account when making this decision.  If you use an 
interpreter who knows the parties involved make sure 
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you keep a record of your rationale in your notebook or 
on a jobsheet.   
•  Reschedule the interview if there is going to be an 
unreasonable delay. 
•  Ask the interpreter for their qualifications and contact 
details or those of their organisation. Record these in 
your notebook.  
•  With serious incidents it is recommended that you 
visually record the interview. This method will provide 
an accurate record of interpretation/translation should it 
later come into question.  
•  Prepare for the interview in the usual manner 
•  When the interpreter arrives: 
-  allow the interpreter the opportunity to brief both 
parties on their professional role and how they will 
conduct themselves 
-  if necessary, inform the interpreter their role is to 
interpret your questions and the witness's answers 
back to you  
-  their interpretation should be as direct as possible in 
'first person'. They should not enter into general 
discussion with the witness. 
•  Answer the interpreter's questions about the interview 
•  Consider seeking advice from the interpreter about any 
communication issues that may arise. 
•  Discuss the aims and objectives of the interview with 
the interpreter, e.g. to gain a detailed and accurate 
account from the witness about what happened at 
Travers Inn last night.  
Engage and explain  
•  Using the interpreter, complete the usual engage and 
explain process as you would for other witnesses.  
•  If appropriate, through the interpreter acknowledge the 
witness's culture or religion and ask them if they are 
comfortable to proceed or whether they require further 
special measures, e.g. a Muslim woman may prefer to 
be interviewed by a female police officer or have a 
support person present. 
•  Your questions are interpreted to the witness in their 
language and their answers interpreted back to you.  
•  For safety and impartiality reasons make sure the 
interpreter leaves the room with you if you take any 
interview breaks.  
Written statements  
If a written statement is made from the interview: 
•  at the beginning of the statement include the 
interpreter's name, role (to interpret directly from the 
interviewee's language to English and vice versa) and 
languages they are interpreting  
•  using your notes as a aid, write down the statement in 
•  instruct the interpreter to make a written translation of 
the statement into the witness’s own language, this can 
be done in one of two ways (you should make this 
decision in consultation with the interpreter): 
-  by leaving a space under each line written in English 
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link to page 18 link to page 18 and writing the translation for each line in the space 
-  by writing a full English version of the statement and 
a separate version of the statement in the witness's 
language (the version in the witness's own language 
is the statement, the English version is a copy) 
•  in all cases, invite the witness to read the statement in 
their own language and make corrections or additions 
•  the witness should then endorse the statement by 
writing in their own language: 'This statement is true 
and correct' and signing the statement 
•  ask the interpreter to certify the translation as accurate 
i.e. 'I have accurately translated this statement to the 
best of my ability.' 
•  endorse the statement as you usually would. 
•  Complete the closure processes as usual. 
•  Before the interpreter leaves ensure you have their full 
contact details (or that of their agency). 
•  Conduct an interview evaluation in the usual manner. 
•  Ensure the appropriate forms are completed to initiate 
payment of the interpreter. 
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Witnesses fearing intimidation  
Who are intimidated witnesses? 

Intimidated witnesses are witnesses whose quality of evidence is likely to be diminished 
by reason of fear or distress in connection with providing evidence or testifying in 
Indicators of intimidation 
This table gives examples to help you identify intimidated witnesses. 
Factor relating 
Witness The 
•  tells a police officer or other member of the criminal justice 
system (e.g. Victim Support, Victim Court Advisors) that 
intimidation has occurred or is likely to occur 
•  is a member of the family or extended family of the suspect 
•  asks for witness protection 
•  is reluctant to give a statement despite giving information 
about the offence 
•  associates with or is a member of an organised criminal gang 
who may view giving evidence as ‘narking’  
•  resides in a small close-knit community, living in close 
proximity to the alleged offender or their relatives  
•  suffers from an impairment and might perceive an increased 
risk of intimidation or victimisation 
•  has a cultural or ethnic background that might lead to 
•  is also the victim (not sufficient on its own). 
Incident /alleged 
•  The incident occurred in or around the witness’s home (not 
likely to be sufficient on its own). 
•  The nature of the offence indicates an increased likelihood of 
intimidation. Research suggests sexual assaults, physical 
assaults especially domestic violence, gang violence, vandalism 
and racially motivated and homophobic crimes are more likely 
to give rise to intimidation.  
•  The offence is one of a series of incidents and there might be 
repeat victimisation. 
Alleged offender  
•  The relationship between the witness and alleged offender is a 
personal one in which the alleged offender has some authority 
over the witness (e.g. a carer in a residential home). 
•  The alleged offender has previous history of intimidation or 
there is intelligence suggesting previous intimidation. 
•  The violent nature of the alleged offender or the offender’s 
relative or associate. 
•  The alleged offender or offender’s family or associates intend to 
and are able to influence or interfere with the witness. 
•  The alleged offender's influence in the criminal fraternity (this 
should not be based solely on anecdotal evidence). 
Consider the witness's views 
Consider the witness's views about intimidation. Whether or not a witness is intimidated 
does not rest solely on their views. However they are important and the court will 
eventually need to take them into account when determining the witness’s eligibility for 
giving evidence in alternative ways.  
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Engage and explain 
Anxiety about their safety will detract from a witness's ability to concentrate and give 
you a complete account.  
During the engage and explain interview phase: 
•  address the witness's concerns and take appropriate measures to alleviate them 
•  explain the investigation and judicial processes to them 
•  if you believe there is a real risk to the witness's safety discuss this with your 
supervisor immediately.  
Consider using a specialist interviewer 
If you believe that intimidation may be an ongoing problem consider using a specialist 
interviewer and visually recording the interview in accordance with section 103 of the 
Evidence Act 2006. 
Consider using a support person 
If appropriate, give the witness the opportunity to have a support person present. 
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Family violence victims 

When interviewing family violence victims, you must comply with the Family Violence 
Interviewing family violence victims 
Follow the usual interviewing procedures when interviewing family violence victims and 
other family members who are witnesses.  
Planning and preparation 
This table outlines additional matters to be covered during the planning and preparation 
interview phase.  
Matter Ensure 
Witness profile: 
•  Current status of relationship with suspect (e.g. separated, 
Family and 
•  Details of other witnesses and family members. 
•  Whether any children were present during the incident or within 
hearing? What was the children's reaction to this incident? 
•  History of relationship and other incidents. 
•  Victim's view on: 
-  future of the relationship 
-  likelihood of further violence and their own safety and that of 
any children. (Include discussion on any risk assessment 
•  Whether the victim has told anyone else about the incident 
(ensure consistent statements). Collect names and contact 
details for those people.  
•  Details of any protection order or parenting order in place. 
important topics 
•  Cause, nature and seriousness of injuries (physical and 
•  Descriptions of any weapons used. 
•  Threats made before, during or since the incident. 
•  Sexual violence. 
•  Consider family violence risk factors (red flags). Discuss them 
with the victim. 
Witness profile: 
•  Victim safety is a priority.  
current state 
•  Emotional state.  If they are distressed consider delaying the 
interview. Likewise, a witness may be more forthcoming with 
information at this time when they would otherwise not. Use 
your judgement.  
•  Physical state. Ask the victim appropriate questions to 
determine if they are suffering any physical injury and require 
urgent first aid or medical treatment.  
•  Conduct interviews as soon as is practical after the incident to 
ensure expediency of the investigation process. Only delay the 
interview if there are concerns for the witness's safety or 
•  Delay in the interview process works in the offender's interest. 
Family violence victims often quickly begin recanting evidence 
following approaches/threats by the offender or others for 
reconciliation or because of their desire to maintain a 
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Use an appropriate interview model to elicit the witness's account. 
Unless directly relevant to the investigation, do not bring up their residential address. If 
the victim is staying in a place of safety do not bring up the location at interview. 
Prepare the witness for what will happen after the interview - e.g. referral to support 
services, medical examination, photographs. 
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Investigatively important witnesses 
Witness examples 
Examples of witnesses for whom it is investigatively important to maximise the accuracy 
and completeness of their evidence include: 
•  victims of and witnesses to serious offences 
•  family members of suspects 
•  witnesses who may later become suspects.  
Visually recording witness interview 
The best way to maximise the quality of the evidence of investigatively important 
witnesses is to visually record their interview.  
Under section 103 Evidence Act 2006, police can apply to the judge for an investigatively 
important witness to give evidence in chief by visual record based on a number of 
grounds including: 
•  the nature of proceedings 
•  nature of the evidence the witness is expected to give 
•  relationship of the witness to any other party to the proceeding. 
Selecting interview model 
Level 3 specialist interviewers interviewing investigatively important witnesses may 
choose to use enhanced cognitive interviewing techniques provided they have been 
trained in those techniques.  
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Using specialist interviewers  
Specialist interviewers 
Child forensic interviewers  

Specialist adult witness interviewers  
A specialist child interviewer: 
A specialist adult interviewer: 
•  is a trained forensic interviewer for 
•  is a trained Level 3 specialist adult 
children and young persons aged 16 
witness interviewer for persons aged 
years and under 
over 16 years 
•  has received specialist training in how 
•  has received specialist training in using 
to interview children on video record 
enhanced cognitive interviewing and 
according the Evidence Regulations and 
video recording interviews in 
national standards.  
accordance with the Evidence 
Regulations and national standards. 
Contact these interviewers through the 
Child Protection Team or the CIB. 
Contact these interviewers through your 
Use specialists when visually recording interviews 
Specialist interviewers should conduct all witness interviews that need to be visually 
Interviews should be visually recorded in all cases where the witness meets criteria set 
out in section 103 Evidence Act 2006 and where an application may be made to give 
evidence by the alternative way of video record.  
Advantages of visually recording evidence 
The advantages of visually recording interviews can include: 
•  greater quality and quantity of information obtained 
•  minimising trauma to the witness by simplifying the process and having their 
interview played as their evidence in chief 
•  reducing contamination by the interviewer through the process of transposing the 
interview into a statement 
•  providing a valuable means for the witness to refresh their memory before judicial 
Types of witnesses requiring specialist interviewers  
Always consider using specialist interviewers in these cases. These witnesses potentially 
meet criteria set out in section 103 or 107 Evidence Act 2006.  
Children and intellectually impaired 
•  Children and young people aged 16 
•  Adults (over 16 years) requiring special 
years and younger 
consideration especially if they: 
•  Witnesses older than 16 years but who 
-  suffer from some sort of impairment 
are immature for their age or 
(other than intellectual) 
intellectually impaired and are 
-  are traumatised 
victims/witnesses of sexual and serious 
-  fear intimidation 
physical assaults 
-  are related to the suspect 
•  Any case where you believe it is 
-  are investigatively important. 
important to minimise the stress on the  •  Investigatively important witnesses to 
child or intellectually impaired witness, 
serious offences such as: 
including when they are: 
-  homicides 
-  a victim 
-  serious assaults (including when a 
-  very young  
recidivist family violence offender is 
-  the witness to a serious offence or 
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an incident in which a family 
-  sexual assaults 
member is a suspect 
-  kidnapping and abduction 
•  If you are concerned about the child or 
-  aggravated robberies involving 
young person's ability to understand 
the significance of the interview.  
Make decisions about using specialists case by case 
Make decisions about using specialist interviewers and recording interviews on a case by 
case basis depending on the availability of a specialist interviewer, appropriate rooms, 
equipment and transcription services.  
If you think a specialist should be engaged to interview your witness, discuss this with 
your supervisor and: 
•  if the witness is a child or young person seek advice from your local Child Protection 
Team or child forensic interviewer 
•  if the witness is an adult seek advice from a Level 3 specialist adult witness 
interviewer or the CIB. 
Deciding whether to use a child forensic interviewer or a Level 3 specialist adult 
witness interviewer 

Use a child forensic interviewer in preference to a Level 3 specialist adult witness 
interviewer with children aged 16 years or under and witness's who are immature for 
their age or intellectually impaired. Any decisions to depart from this process can be 
made on a case by case basis by the O/C of the case in consultation with a local child 
forensic interviewer, e.g. if the witness is mature for their age. 
When a specialist is not available 
You should not record evidence by video unless you are trained in investigative 
interviewing and are a specialist interviewer.  
In exceptional circumstances, if a specialist interviewer is not available, a CIB NCO can 
authorise a suitably competent investigator to conduct and visually record the interview. 
Preference should be given to those trained in Investigative Interviewing Level 2, or if 
not available, trained in Level 1. 
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Procedures for visually recording interviews with adults 
Compliance with Evidence Regulations 2007 

Visually recorded interviews used as an alternative form of evidence must comply with 
the procedures detailed in the Evidence Regulations 2007.  
For procedures for visually recording interviews with children refer to the Forensic 
Interviewing Manual. 
Where should visually recorded interviews be conducted? 
Ideally a dedicated witness interviewing suite should be used to conduct visually 
recorded interviews. In exceptional circumstances, other interview facilities may be 
approved by a CIB NCO.  
In all cases ensure the room is set up for the witness and is comfortable, clean and tidy. 
If using a suspect room, be mindful of the possibility of cross-contamination and the 
well-being of the witness.  For example highly traumatised victims may be sensitive to 
smell, and even though they are unable to articulate this, may feel unsafe in a suspect 
room for this reason.  
Interview procedures 
This table outlines how the usual interview procedures should be varied when adult 
witness interviews are visually recorded. 
Planning and preparation: 
•  Schedule interviews to suit the witness and when 
practical arrangements  
facilities and specialist interviewers are available. 
•  Arrange for the interview to be monitored. 
•  Set up the interview room and arrange seating.  
•  Check the equipment is working and meets 
requirements, i.e: 
-  the record shows an analogue clock and all persons 
present in the room 
-  microphone is positioned to capture all that is said.  
Engage and explain  
•  Explain to the witness you would like to visually record 
the interview and:  
-  the processes involved in making an electronic 
-  advantages of electronic recording 
-  the purposes for which it might be used including as 
an alternative means of evidence. 
•  If the interview is being monitored, explain this to the 
witness and let them know you may be taking breaks 
to make sure everything has been covered. Introduce 
the witness to the monitor. 
•  Let the witness know that the interview may be used 
as evidence and that to meet legal requirements you 
will have to get them to promise to tell the truth at the 
beginning of the interview. 
•  Insert a minimum of two DVDs/tapes into the recorder 
(one the 'master' and the other the 'working' copy) 
and record the interview. 
•  To ensure you comply with the Evidence Regulations 
2007 on the video record you must: 
-  state the time and date the interview starts 
-  identify yourself and others present 
-  ask the witness to promise to tell the truth 
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-  if an interpreter is present, ask them to promise to 
completely and accurately translate what is said. 
•  Explain the ground rules of the interview. 
•  Conduct the interview as usual using an appropriate 
interview model depending on the circumstances of the 
case and skills of the interviewer - free recall, 
conversation management or enhanced cognitive 
Breaks during the account  •  If you take a break you must state on the record: 
-  the time and fact a break is taken 
-  the estimated duration of the break 
-  the reason for taking it. 
•  Stop the recording during the break. 
•  Start recording again when the interview recommences 
and state: 
-  the time the interview recommences 
-  what happened during the break e.g. spoke to the 
monitor, had lunch... 
•  If monitored, take a break before closure of the 
interview to check if anything else needs to be 
•  State the time the interview finishes. 
•  If you decide to end the interview before all the 
intended topics or questions are covered you must 
state on the record: 
-  the fact that the video record is concluding without 
all questions covered 
-  the reasons for that. 
•  Complete an interview evaluation. If monitored, the 
monitor should complete this. 
•  Follow procedures for storage and transcription after 
visually recording interviews to comply with Evidence 
Regulations 2007.  
Monitor's role 
A monitor should be used to remotely oversee the interview when visually recording 
witness interviews, unless exceptional circumstances exist. Ideally the monitor should be 
an officer with a detailed knowledge of the investigation.  
The monitor should: 
•  scrutinise the interview content identifying areas that are missing or which need 
clarifying or expanding for the purpose of the investigation 
•  be alert to interviewer errors and confusions in communication between the 
interviewer and witness 
•  take accurate, comprehensive and legible interview notes 
•  record the time at significant points throughout the interview 
•  provide feedback on content and/or approach to the interviewer during breaks in the 
•  only interrupt the interview if absolutely necessary e.g. if the equipment fails or a 
legal requirement is missed 
•  at the conclusion of the interview complete an interview evaluation using the 
appropriate form. 
Interview evaluation 
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The interview evaluation should be completed by the monitor on the appropriate form, in 
consultation with the interviewer. If there is no monitor, the interviewer should complete 
the evaluation.  
Once you have completed the form, discuss the evaluation with the interviewer and 
include any additional points raised. Provide constructive feedback on the interviewer's 
performance during interview.  
The evaluation should be completed as soon as practical after the interview, while the 
information is still fresh in the monitor's/interviewer's mind.  
Evaluation purpose 
The purpose of the evaluation is to: 
•  provide a summary of the interview 
•  process the information from the interview in the context of the investigation  
•  identify offences, ingredients and probable defences 
•  establish what further enquires need to be conducted and determine urgency 
•  identify important descriptions of people and objects that may be vital to the 
•  ensure dissemination of the information obtained by providing the investigating 
team/supervisor with a relevant summary.  
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Storage, transcription and the court process after 
visually recording  

This section outlines procedures to be followed after visually recording interviews with 
witnesses, including how to have the video or DVD admitted as an alternative way of 
giving evidence. 
Storage and chain of custody 
Because the video recording may be used as an exhibit, the interviewer must take these 
precautions to ensure that it is kept secure and the chain of custody is maintained. 
Step Action 

Seal, label and arrange for storage of the interview records. 

Make a minimum of two records. Mark one the 'Master' and the other 
'Working' copy. If a third record is made, mark this as a 'Lawyers' copy and 
retain it to be used later for disclosure if required. 

Store all copies of the interview record in a secure location. This means a 
locked cabinet or room as designated by your District. 

Complete a Certificate for DVD/Video Record (Pol II: WVC) and store this with 
each copy of the record. 
All witness video recorded interview records must be transcribed if they contain relevant 
The O/C Investigation is responsible for:  
•  arranging for transcription of the working tape as soon as reasonably practicable  
•  taking into account the timelines for initial/full disclosure  
•  filing of formal written statements 
•  creating an unsigned brief of evidence from the transcript (for the prosecutor) if the 
witness is giving evidence in chief orally and the transcript: 
-  contains large amounts of irrelevant and inadmissible material, or 
-  is long and complex, or  
-  does not present the evidence in chronological order. 
Disclosure of video records and transcripts 
If a video record of an interview exists it must be noted on the exhibits list and 
Disclosure Index, as well as any transcript prepared.  Refer to the Disclosure of video 
records and transcripts 
section of the Criminal Disclosure chapter for more information.  
Committal: Using the video record as a formal written statement 
Refer to the Preparing Formal Written Statements section of the Summary Proceedings 
chapter for information about filing the video record as an exhibit to a formal written 
statement for committal.  
Applications for alternative way of giving evidence 
No witness can give evidence in Court by alternative means (e.g. using a video record of 
an interview instead of giving evidence in person). An application must be made under 
section 103 of the Evidence Act 2006. 
Even where a video record is shown as the witness's evidence in chief, they are required 
to be available for cross-examination. You should therefore consider what the witness 
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might need to enable them to be cross-examined with minimum stress, e.g. screens, 
CCTV etc as appropriate. 
Factors to consider when deciding whether to apply 
Make decisions about applying to use the video record as the witness's evidence in chief 
on a case by case basis taking into consideration: 
•  the criteria set down in s103 of the Evidence Act 2006 (including the views of the 
witness and if they are aged under 18 years), and  
•  whether the video will provide the best means of evidence.   
An alternative way of evidence application is required: 
•  in summary matters, if you believe the video is the best evidence for a defended 
•  in indictable matters, at the committal stage only if the witness is to give oral 
evidence at a committal hearing, i.e. only if an oral evidence order has been made in 
respect of that particular witness.  
An application is not required if there is only a standard committal or if there is a 
committal hearing and that witness is not required to give evidence. 
For indictable matters that are committed for trial, the Crown Prosecutor may make an 
application for an alternative way of evidence where they believe the video is the best 
evidence for the jury trial. 
Procedures for making applications 
In all matters, applications for an alternative way of evidence must be made as early as 
practicable before the proceeding and well before the witness is required to give oral 
evidence in court.  Procedures are detailed below. 
Oral evidence at committal hearing or  Evidence at jury trial 
defended hearing 

Step Action 
Step  Action 

If the witness is required to give 

The O/C Investigation must 
oral evidence at a committal 
indicate to the prosecutor as 
hearing or defended hearing: 
early as possible that they 
•   the O/C Investigation must 
believe an alternative way of 
contact the prosecutor in 
evidence application is required 
charge of the case to advise 
for the witness and the grounds 
that an alternative way of 
for the application (as per 
evidence application is 
section 103 of the Evidence Act 
2006). That view and the 
•  the prosecutor must arrange 
reasons for it should be set out 
for the alternative way of 
clearly in the covering report on 
evidence application to be 
the file. 
filed and heard prior to the 
2 The 
committal hearing or 
•  will consider whether they 
defended hearing.  
believe an application is 

The O/C Investigation must 
prepare an affidavit outlining the 
•  may require evidence in 
grounds for the application (as 
support of the application, 
per s103 Evidence Act 2006) 
and for complainants of sexual 
•  will make an alternative way 
assault, including grounds under 
of evidence application at the 
section 185C Summary 
pre-trial hearing. 
Proceedings Act 1957). Other 
evidence in affidavit form may 
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also be required from other 
witnesses e.g. psychologist, 
doctor, cultural expert. 

Provide defence counsel with a 
copy of the transcript at least 7 
days before the committal 
hearing in which the video 
record is being played or, if the 
defendant is being tried 
summarily, as soon as is 
reasonably practicable after the 
defendant has pleaded not 
Obtain a receipt from defence 
counsel using Form Pol II: WVR 
to remind counsel of their 
statutory obligations in 
relation to witness's evidence. 
When a section 103 order is made 
Follow the procedures in the Disclosure of video records and transcripts section of the 
Criminal disclosure chapter if a judge makes an order under section 103 Evidence Act. 
Note in particular, the Police policy restrictions on disclosing video recorded interviews of 
victims of sexual assault and violent offending.     
Preparing the witness to give evidence 
To refresh the witness's memory before giving evidence the O/C Investigation should 
arrange for the witness to view their visually recorded interview. Usually this should take 
place within a week of the oral hearing, but the timing will vary depending on the 
circumstances of the case. For complainants, consider arranging for a support person to 
be present when reviewing the interview. 
After the conclusion of the case - destruction of records  
The Evidence Regulations 2007 require interview records to be destroyed as follows. 
Result Master Working 
Criminal proceeding  Courts 
7 years after record  7 years after record 
responsibility (10 
years after final 
No criminal 
7 years after record  7 years after record  7 years after record 
*If 7 years has elapsed since a record relating to an unsolved investigation was made, 
you must retain the master copy in a secure location until the prosecution is concluded 
or untenable. 
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link to page 5  
Enhanced cognitive interviewing 
When should enhanced cognitive interviewing be used? 

Enhanced cognitive interviewing should be used with cooperative adult witnesses when 
you need to maximise the quality and quantity of the information obtained. For example, 
if the witness is investigatively important. 
Selection of the interviewer 
Enhanced cognitive interviews must only be conducted by Level 3: Specialist adult 
witness interviewers who are specially trained in using these techniques.  Where 
practical, also consider: 
•  the experience of the interviewer in relation to the type of offence under investigation 
and the characteristics of the witness 
•  any previous experience of the interviewer with the witness (that may aid or have an 
adverse effect on the interview) 
•  whether the witness has volunteered a preference. 
Procedures for enhanced cognitive interviewing 
Follow these procedures when interviewing witnesses using enhanced cognitive 
Planning and preparation (monitor) 
The monitor (who should be either another Level 3 specialist interviewer or someone 
involved in the investigation) follows these steps when planning and preparing for the 
Actions by monitor 

Plan and prepare for the interview as with the free recall model by developing 
a detailed understanding of the investigation and investigatively important 
topics to be covered. 

Brief the interviewer on: 
•  the witnesses' profile (identity factors and current state) 
•  a broad (i.e. not detailed) outline of the alleged offence including type of 
offence, approximate time and location of the offence, scene, how the 
offence came to notice of police and the nature of any intimidation  
•  the practical arrangements made to date. 

Liaise with the witness and schedule the interview for a time and place that 
suits the witness when the interviewer and interviewing resources are 
Planning and preparation (interviewer) 
The interviewer (who should have limited knowledge of the investigation and the 
information the witness is likely to provide) follows these steps when planning and 
preparing for the interview.  
Actions by interviewer 

Plan and prepare for the interview considering the witness profile and nature 
of the offence.  

Set up the interview room, interviewing equipment and communication aids 
and decide the best approach to the interview. Wear appropriate attire 
according to the characteristics of the interviewee 

Inform the monitor of the approach being adopted.  
Before interview, the monitor and the interviewer should clearly define each 
others roles and expectations. 
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link to page 52 link to page 8  

If the interviewer is also in charge of the investigation or has interviewed 
other witnesses in the course of the investigation, take care to avoid 
contaminating the interview process with previous knowledge. 
Engage and explain 
Follow these steps during the engage and explain phase of enhanced cognitive 
Step Action 
1 The 
monitor introduces the witness to the interviewer and then leaves them 
in private to build rapport. 
2 The interviewer
•  builds rapport with the witness and establishes a professional working 
•  explains the interview's purpose and process  
•  shows the witness the interview suite set-up (interview room and monitors 
3 The 
•  assesses the witness's needs and determines the best time for interview 
and the strategy for conducting the interview, including whether: 
-  more than one session is required to build rapport 
-  to break the interview down into different phases over several sessions 
-  the witness requires special measures at interview 
•  continuously reassesses the witness throughout the interview. (If the 
witness becomes tired or upset, consider delaying the interview taking into 
account their needs, the impact of their state on the ability to recall 
information and investigative requirements). 
If you decide several sessions are required make sure you take investigative 
needs into consideration when deciding what topics to cover when. 

Follow the engage and explain procedures for visually recorded interviews to 
complete introductions and outline the interview. (To comply with Evidence 
Regulations 2007). 
ground rules as you would with a co-operative witness.  Ensure 
you also explain the procedures and techniques that are unique to an 
enhanced cognitive interview (refer to the ECI Guide). 
The interviewer follows these procedures to obtain the witness's account during 
enhanced cognitive interviewing.  
Step Action 

Reinstate the context of the alleged event (care is essential if the witness is 
suffering from trauma cases). Try to create a picture in the mind of the 
witness of the personal and environmental context of the alleged event. For 
example, ask the witness to concentrate on: 
•  where they were 
•  everything they could see 
•  what the weather was like 
•  the layout of the location 
•  objects they could see 
•  colours they could see 
•  what they were doing 
•  what was happening 
•  the people 
•  what they could hear 
•  all the sounds 
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link to page 11 link to page 61 link to page 61 •  what they could smell 
•  how they were feeling. 
Use pauses, silence and non-verbal communication appropriately to aid the 
witness to concentrate and encourage them to take their time. 

Ask the witness to give an account of everything they can remember in as 
much detail as possible without leaving anything out (allow for pauses and do 
not interrupt the witness during this process). 

Actively listen, use minimal prompts that do not go beyond the witness’ 
account and reflect back what the witness has said where necessary. 
As the witness gives their first account, listen carefully and note areas you 
wish to obtain further details about.  

Give the witness the opportunity to draw a sketch plan. This can often help 
when trying to reinstate the context and assists recall. 

Break down the witness’ account into manageable topics. Explain to the 
witness that: 
•  you have some questions to ask and it is okay to answer I don't know 
•  they should tell you everything, even if they think it is not important or 
only partially remember details 
•  should take their time. 

Expand on the witness’s account using witness compatible questioning. Use 
open TEDS type questions and systematically probe each topic until the 
witness is unable to provide any more information. Use probing 5Wh + How 
type questions if required. 
Ensure you use the correct questioning techniques. 

Transfer control of the interview to the interviewee. Tell them that: 
•  you were not there and your job is to get as much info from them as 
•  even if they know that you or Police in general have interviewed others as 
part of the investigation and might already have information, they should 
not edit anything from their account. Emphasise that they are the 
important one etc . 

Use focused retrieval on important topics. Try to reinstate these 'mini-
contexts' by using some of the global context reinstatement techniques 
referred to above in order to facilitate this process. Activate and probe the 
If appropriate, encourage repeated attempts at recall by using: 
•  change in temporal order 
•  different senses 
•  change in perspectives. 
•  memory jogs. 

Explore investigatively important topics not introduced by the witness using 
appropriate questioning techniques as outlined above. 
Discuss any inconsistencies or omissions with other evidence towards the end 
of the interview.  
Use open followed by closed questions. Sometimes leading questions may be 
required. Be aware that all witnesses may be liable to suggestion and follow 
information gained by a leading question with open questions. 
Before closing the interview, check with the monitor if there is anything else 
that needs to be covered. This can also be done throughout the interview as 
an aid to the interview process. 
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For more detail on enhanced cognitive interviewing refer to 'The Enhanced Cognitive 
Interview: A step-by-step guide'
 by Dr Rebecca Milne. 
Dealing with significant evidential inconsistencies 
For a variety of reasons there may be significant inconsistencies between the witness's 
account and other evidence such as: 
•  what the witness is previously reported to have said 
•  the accounts of other witnesses 
•  the scene examination or exhibits 
•  injuries of the witness or the suspect. 
You must keep an open mind to the cause of the inconsistencies.  They may have arisen 
for a variety of reasons including genuine mistakes often originating from memory failure 
or cross-contamination of the witness or others reporting the information, or the witness 
may be fabricating or exaggerating their account.   
Decisions to raise these inconsistencies at interview must be made by the interviewer in 
consultation with the O/C Investigation taking these principles into account: 
•  explanations should only be sought for significant inconsistencies and where careful 
consideration has excluded any obvious explanation for them 
•  explanations should only be sought on video at the end of the interview (or at another 
interview) when the witness's account has been fully explored 
•  the purpose of seeking an explanation is to establish the truth; it is not to put 
pressure on the witness to change their account 
•  when seeking an explanation the interviewer must take into account the 
characteristics of the witness and extent to which they are vulnerable to suggestion, 
compliance or acquiescence 
•  questions used to seek an explanation must be carefully planned, phrased tactfully 
and presented in a non-confrontational manner. 
Dealing with significant evidential omissions 
Sometimes the investigation may suggest that the witness has no relevant information.  
For example, other eyewitnesses may have reported the offender carrying an object or 
that there was something unusual about the offender or their vehicle. 
Decisions to raise omissions at interview must be made by the interviewer in 
consultation with the O/C Investigation taking these principles into account: 
•  explanations should only be sought for significant omissions and where careful 
consideration has excluded any obvious explanation for them 
•  explanations should only be sought on video at the end of the interview (or at another 
interview) when the witness's account has been fully explored 
•  when seeking an explanation the interviewer must take into account the 
characteristics of the witness and extent to which they are vulnerable to suggestion, 
compliance or acquiescence 
•  questions used to seek an explanation must be phrased in a manner that is least 
likely to impact on the evidential value of the response. 
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