We interview witnesses. A large part of any investigator’s or detective’s job involves interviewing people. This often takes place in a person’s home, workplace or at a police station. Interviews are frequently recorded and can result in a written statement signed and dated by the interviewee.

When dealing with compliant witnesses and suspects investigators typically employ cognitive interviewing methods. This involves the interviewee closing their eyes and recounting as much detail as possible, both in chronological and reverse-chronological order. Additional open questions, followed by closed questions, can then be asked. Leading questions should always be avoided.

Non compliant interviewees may not be suited to the above approach. In this case, the conversation management technique can be useful. This technique requires the interviewer to manage the flow and direction of the interview by asking probing, open ended questions and addressing doubts and inconsistencies in the interviewee’s recall of events.

Private investigators don’t interrogate people. Their aim is to obtain the facts of the case in a respectful and non-oppressive fashion. Witness interviews are an important form of evidence in both civil and criminal proceedings.  So…may I ask you a question…?