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Rapport-building in suspects’ police interviews

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Both research and police guidelines acknowledge the value of rapport-building in police interview with suspects (ISs) and provide some insight into how ‘rapport’ may be defined and built in this context. Rapport is, however, difficult to operationalise and assess in practice, other than for the routine legal clarification offered to suspects at the beginning of the interview. This paper takes an original discourse-pragmatic and ethnographic approach to investigating the forms that rapport takes in a sample of authentic ISs, with particular reference to two dimensions, empathy and face. The article discusses the value and suitability of the identified empathic and ‘face’-relevant expressions with respect to current interview aims and practice. The discussion highlights the underlying bi-functionality of rapport in ISs, demonstrating how the two functions may be reconciled in police interview training and practice.

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Keywords: discourse pragmatics; empathy; face; police interviews; police officer training; rapport; suspects

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 28, 2019

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