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Negotiated disclosure : an examination of strategic information management by the police at custodial interrogation

By Paul Jonathan King


This thesis considers the impact of substantially attenuating a suspect's right to silence\ud on the relative positions of the police and defence in custodial interviews. The main\ud hypothesis argues that these provisions have had a significant, unforeseen impact on the\ud working dynamic between police officers and legal advisers. Interview strategies have\ud developed, which seek to reinforce advantages to the police associated with control of\ud pre-interview evidential disclosure. A second hypothesis postulates that introduction of\ud the inference provisions has influenced suspect behaviour during custodial interrogation,\ud leading to a reduced reliance upon the exercise of silence.\ud The study drew upon data collected from in-depth, tape-recorded interviews with police\ud officers involved at various stages of the investigative process, representing a wide\ud variety of roles and experience. Full transcripts of the interviews were prepared and then\ud subjected to a close-grained, qualitative analysis in which various themes were identified.\ud The findings reveal, inter alia, that pre-interview disclosure has assumed increased\ud significance, and can be instrumental to the interrogation outcome. Police officers are\ud accorded considerable discretion in the management of police-suspect relations, which is\ud evident in the emergence of control strategies for case-related information. Greater\ud openness has flowed from the development of better-trained lawyers, and was manifest in\ud the increased emphasis by police officers on truth-seeking during interview. Evidence\ud emerged of controlled disclosure being used as a mechanism for securing or negotiating\ud the co-operation of an interviewee. The extent of disclosure varied according to a number\ud of factors, although, in serious or complex cases, non-disclosure formed the basis for the\ud strategy. The incremental release of information has been shown to have an unsettling\ud effect on interviewees and can undermine the legal adviser's presence. The police claim\ud fewer no-comment interviews and improved content from the use of these tactics -\ud findings that are echoed in recent studies by the Home Office and in Northern Ireland.\ud The research therefore indicates that there is evidence to support both hypotheses

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