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NCJ Number: 84073 Find in a Library
Title: Role of Interrogation in Crime Discovery and Conviction
Journal: British Journal of Criminology  Volume:22  Issue:2  Dated:(April 1982)  Pages:165-175
Author(s): M McConville; J Baldwin
Date Published: 1982
Page Count: 11
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: A study of a sample of cases in British courts shows that police interrogation yielding confessions and other information was rarely essential for a conviction, but the police continue to emphasize interrogation apparently as a means of establishing police authority over the suspect and reinforcing the identity of the defendant as a criminal before entering the courtroom.
Abstract: A total of 271 contested trials and 205 trials with guilty pleas were ramdomly selected from committal papers of Crown Court cases in Birmingham and London. Only about 25 percent of the defendants entered the courtroom without a damaging personal statement of some kind having been recorded against them. In most cases, this was a full written or verbal confession; however, confessions were obtained in cases where the evidence against the accused was already strong and probably sufficient to obtain a conviction without the defendant's confession. Other justifications for police questioning, such as obtaining information on accomplices, stolen property, and other crimes committed by the suspect, cannot be shown to be significant products of police interrogation. The emphasis on police interrogation of suspects in the absence of its yielding significant help in gaining convictions can be attributed to its meeting the need of the police to establish a structure of authority over the suspect and relieve any anxiety the police might have about winning the case in court, since a confession is viewed as virtually ensuring that the defendant will be found guilty. Tabular data and a total of 27 references are provided.
Index Term(s): Criminal investigation; England; Suspect interrogation
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