Insight into investigative interviewing

Why torture is an unreliable method of obtaining a confession and reasons contributing to false confessions are two of the topics to be discussed by former Queensland Police Service detective Rod Shelton in a presentation to Griffith Law School students this week.

“The process of interviewing is an art and a science,’’ said Mr Shelton who addressed students at the Gold Coast campus on Tuesday, March 1.

“As an art, it involves ingenuity and creativity and, as a science, it involves psychology, careful preparation, following an established method, collecting and classifying information, reaching a conclusion, and verification of results.”

Mr Shelton gave an overview of modern investigative techniques, the legal requirements of police during an interview, witness and suspect interviewing procedures and discuss examples of overseas false confessions.

Former QPS detective Rodney Shelton is an expert in investigative interviewing.
Former QPS detective Rodney Shelton is an expert in investigative interviewing.

The law students are enrolled in the Innocence Project course which teaches them about how wrongful conviction occurs as well as their role in the review of the cases and the difficulties within the current Australian framework, for people trying to prove their innocence.

The Griffith University Innocence Project began in 2001 and was one of the first established outside the US. It is now a part of the Innocence Network which consists of 69 member organisations internationally.

Griffith University Innocence Project Director Lynne Weathered.
Griffith University Innocence Project Director Lynne Weathered.

Director Lynne Weathered said the Griffith University Innocence Project reviews cases for people claiming to be innocent of the crime for which they have been convicted and seeks to ascertain whether innocence may be established through the use of DNA technology (or in exceptional circumstances through other new evidence of innocence).

“The vast majority of student investigative work will be analysing relevant documents, such as the police record of interview, committal, trial and appeal transcripts, witness statements and other relevant documents,” she said.

“This is a major and essential component of project work as it is necessary to have a comprehensive understanding of the facts of the cases and the evidence as presented at trial, prior to seeking access to further information, considering what potential new evidence may be available and seeking to access any such evidence for DNA testing.

Rodney Shelton served 18 years in the Queensland Police Service and was a detective specialising in investigative interviewing training and fraud prevention. Prior to joining the QPS he was a teacher for 17 years. Since retiring, he has continued investigative interviewing training with business, local government and the Australian Federal Police. He is a member of the International Investigative Reviewing Research Group.

Media contact: Deborah Marshall, 0413 156 601, d.marshall@griffith.edu.au