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The histories and structures of custodial interrogation

By Ian Bryan


This thesis is concerned with the centrality of the confession as an item of prosecution\ud evidence. It is also concerned with both the structures and strategies that have evolved in\ud the criminal justice system to legitimate the confession and preserve its vitality as\ud evidence probative of guilt.\ud The socio-legal research evaluates the status of records of police interviews within the\ud context of police custodial interrogations of persons suspected of involvement in crime. To\ud this end the thesis examines the extent to which evidence is "constructed"' within a legal\ud framework rather than elicited; how far the 1984 Police and Criminal Evidence Act\ud (PACE) has affected police-suspect relations in interrogations; the circumstances in which\ud suspects "elect" to cooperate with the police or decline to answer specific questions; and\ud the extent to which records of interrogations can be said to be complete, accurate and\ud reliable.\ud The research comprises a number of different methodologies. The first stage involves a\ud historical and case-based analysis of both the development of the use of confession\ud evidence in criminal cases and of the forms of regulation that have been applied over\ud police access to suspects. The investigation centres upon a structural analysis of the\ud relationship between suspects, the police and the courts and examines the value systems\ud which have conditioned the forms of regulation that have evolved.\ud The next stage of the study involves a comparative analysis of the content and form of\ud police interrogations and of the reporting or recording systems relating thereto in a sample\ud of cases drawn from the period prior to the introduction of the PACE Act and from a\ud sample generated following the implementation of the Act. This aspect of the research\ud builds upon conceptual categories developed by psychologists, sociologists and\ud criminologists.\ud This systematic and comparative examination of the interrogation process of the pre-\ud PACE era and the current PACE era is intended as a contribution to the debate\ud surrounding police interview practices and will help resolve contradictory accounts\ud relating to the police role in the criminal justice process. It is, in addition, also intended as\ud a contribution to questions relating not only to the regulation of police powers over\ud suspects but also to those. concerned with the form, nature and structure of the police suspect dynamic and, finally, to those associated with miscarriages of justice

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