Interrogation (also called questioning) is
interview An interview is essentially a structured conversation Conversation is interactive communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an apparent answer to the painful divi ...

ing as commonly employed by
law enforcement officers A law enforcement officer (LEO), or peace officer in North American English, is a public-sector The public sector (also called the state sector) is the part of the economy composed of both public services and public enterprises. Public sectors ...
military personnel Military personnel are members of the state's armed forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare War is an intense armed conflict between S ...
intelligence agencies An intelligence agency is a government agency responsible for the collection, Intelligence analysis, analysis, and exploitation of information in support of law enforcement, national security, military, and foreign policy objectives. Means of in ...
organized crime syndicate Organized crime is a category of transnational, national, or local groupings of highly centralized enterprises run by criminals to engage in illegal activity, most commonly for profit. While organized crime is generally thought of as a form of i ...
s, and
terrorist organizations A number of national governments and two international organisations have created lists of organisations that they designate as terrorist. The following list of designated terrorist groups lists groups designated as terrorist by current and f ...
with the goal of eliciting useful information, particularly information related to suspected crime. Interrogation may involve a diverse array of techniques, ranging from developing a rapport with the subject to
torture Torture is the deliberate infliction of severe pain or suffering Suffering, or pain in a broad sense, may be an experience of unpleasantness and aversion associated with the perception of harm or threat of harm in an individual. Suffering i ...




Deception Deception or falsehood is an act or statement which misleads, hides the truth, or promotes a belief, concept, or idea that is not true. It is often done for personal gain or advantage. Deception can involve dissimulation, propaganda and sleight ...
can form an important part of effective interrogation. In the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
, there is no law or regulation that forbids the interrogator from lying about the strength of their case, from making misleading statements or from implying that the interviewee has already been implicated in the crime by someone else. See case law on trickery and deception ('' Frazier v. Cupp''). As noted above, traditionally the issue of deception is considered from the perspective of the interrogator engaging in deception towards the individual being interrogated. Recently, work completed regarding effective interview methods used to gather information from individuals who score in the medium to high range on measures of psychopathology and are engaged in deception directed towards the interrogator have appeared in the literature.

Verbal and non-verbal cues

The major aim of this technique is to investigate to what extent verbal and non-verbal features of liars’ and truth-tellers’ behaviour change during the course of repeated interrogations. It has shown that liars display significantly fewer smiles, self-manipulations, pauses, and less gaze aversion than truth-tellers. According to Granhag & Strömwall, there are three approaches to non-verbal deceptive behavior. The first is the emotional approach, which suggests that liars will alter their behaviors based on their own emotional feelings. For example, if a subject is lying and they begin to experience guilt, they will shift their gaze. The second approach is the cognitive approach, which suggests that lying requires more thought than telling the truth, which in turn, may result in a liar making more errors in speech. Lastly, the attempted control approach suggests a subject who is lying will attempt to be seemingly normal or honest, and will try to adjust their behaviors to make themselves believable.

Good cop/bad cop

Good cop/bad cop Good cop/bad cop is a psychological tactic used in negotiation and interrogation, in which a team of two people take opposing approaches interrogating their subject. One interrogator adopts a hostile or accusatory demeanor, emphasizing threats o ...
is a psychological tactic used in
negotiation Negotiation is a dialogue Dialogue (sometimes spelled dialog in American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English l ...
and interrogation, in which a team of two interrogators who take apparently opposing approaches to the subject, one of whom adopts a hostile or accusatory demeanor, emphasizing threats of punishment, while the other adopts a more sympathetic demeanor, emphasizing reward, in order to convince the subject to cooperate.

Mind-altering drugs

The use of drugs in interrogation is both ineffective and illegal. The Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment (adopted by the
UN General Assembly The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA or GA; french: link=no, Assemblée générale, AG) is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations The United Nations System consists of the United Nations The United Nations (UN) ...
as resolution 43/173 of 9 December 1988) forbids "methods of interrogation which impair the capacity of decision of judgment." Furthermore, the
World Medical Association The World Medical Association (WMA) is an international and independent confederation of free professional medical associations representing physicians A physician (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US ...
American Medical Association The American Medical Association (AMA), founded in 1847 and incorporated in 1897, is the largest association and lobby group Advocacy groups, also known as special interest groups, use various forms of advocacy Advocacy is an activity by ...
, for example, both forbid participation by physicians in interrogations.


The history of the state use of
torture Torture is the deliberate infliction of severe pain or suffering Suffering, or pain in a broad sense, may be an experience of unpleasantness and aversion associated with the perception of harm or threat of harm in an individual. Suffering i ...

in interrogations extends over more than 2,000 years in Europe. It was recognized early on that information extracted under duress was deceptive and untrustworthy. The Roman imperial jurist Ulpian in the third century AD remarked that there is "no means of obtaining the truth" from those who have the strength to resist, while those unable to withstand the pain "will tell any lie rather than suffer it." The use of torture as an investigative technique waned with the rise of Christianity since it was considered "antithetical to Christ's teachings," and in 866 Pope Nicholas I banned the practice. But after the 13th century many European states such as Germany, France, Portugal, Italy, and Spain began to return to physical abuse for religious
inquisition The Inquisition, in historical ecclesiastical terminology also referred to as the "Holy Inquisition", was a group of institutions within the Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the , with 1. ...

, and for secular investigations. By the 18th century the spreading influence of the Enlightenment led European nations to abandon officially state-sanctioned interrogation by torture. By 1874
Victor Hugo Victor-Marie Hugo (; 26 February 1802 – 22 May 1885) was a French poet, novelist, essayist, playwright, and dramatist of the Romantic movement Romanticism (also known as the Romantic era) was an artistic, literary, musical, and intellect ...

Victor Hugo
could plausibly claim that "torture has ceased to exist." Yet in the 20th century authoritarian states such as Mussolini's Fascist Italy, Hitler's Third Reich, and Lenin's and Stalin's Soviet Union once again resumed the practice, and on a massive scale. During the
Cold War The Cold War was a period of geopolitical Geopolitics (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country loc ...
, the American Central Intelligence Agency was a significant influence among world powers regarding torture techniques in its support of anti-Communist regimes. The CIA adopted methods such as waterboarding, sleep deprivation, and the use of electric shock, which were used by the Gestapo, KGB, and North Koreans from their involvement in the Korean War. The CIA also researched 'no-touch' torture, involving sensory deprivation, self-inflicted pain, and psychological stress. The CIA taught its refined techniques of torture through police and military training to American-supported regimes in the Middle East, in Southeast Asia during the bloody Phoenix Program, and throughout Latin America during Operation Condor. In some Asian and South Pacific nations, such as Malaysia and the Philippines, torture for interrogating and terrorizing opponents became widespread. "In its pursuit of torturers across the globe for the past forty years," writer Alfred McCoy notes, "Amnesty International has been, in a certain sense, following the trail of CIA programs." After the revelation of CIA sponsored torture in the 1970s and the subsequent outcry, the CIA largely stopped its own interrogations under torture. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, it "outsourced" such interrogation through renditions of prisoners to third world allies, often called Extraordinary rendition, torture-by-proxy. But in the furor over the September 11 attacks, American authorities cast aside scruples, legally authorizing some forms of interrogation by torture under euphemisms such as "enhanced interrogation techniques" or "interrogation in depth" to collect intelligence on Al Qaeda, starting in 2002. Ultimately the CIA, the US military, and their contract employees tortured untold thousands at Abu Ghraib, Bagram, and secret black site prisons scattered around the globe, according to the Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture and the bipartisan U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee report (report linked to article) Whether these interrogations under torture produced useful information is Enhanced interrogation techniques#Effectiveness and reliability, hotly disputed. The administration of President Barack Obama prohibited so-called enhanced interrogation in 2009, and as of March 2012 there is no longer a nation which openly admits to deliberate abuse of prisoners for purposes of interrogation.

By country

United Kingdom

Statutory law and regulatory law, various legal precedents called 'case law' also impact interrogation techniques and procedures. One of the first attempts by British Courts to guide and set standards for police officers interrogating suspects was the declaration of the 'Judges' Rules' in 1912 by the judges of the King's Bench Division in England. These rules, although not law, still have weight in the United Kingdom and Canada. British military personnel were found to have misused a number of techniques during the detention of suspects in Northern Ireland in the early 1970s.

United States

Police interrogation

In the United States, police interrogations are conducted under an adversarial system, in which the police seek to obtain material that will aid in convicting a suspect rather than discovering the facts of the case. To this end, a variety of tactics are employed. The Reid technique is widely used by U. S. law enforcement officers for interrogation purposes. It involves steps to obtaining a confession and methods for detecting signs of deception in the suspect's body language. The technique has been criticized for being difficult to apply across cultures and as eliciting false confessions from innocent people. An example is described in the analysis of the Denver police's January 2000 interrogation of 14-year-old Lorenzo Montoya, which took place during its investigation of the murder of 29-year-old Emily Johnson.

Constitutional protections

The Fifth Amendment, which states that one cannot be made to be "a witness against himself", prohibits law enforcement from forcing suspects to offer self-incriminating evidence. As a result of the ''Miranda v. Arizona'' ruling, police are required to read aloud to suspects under interrogation their Miranda Rights afforded to them by the Fifth Amendment, such as the right to remain silent and the right to seek counsel. If the police fail to administer the Miranda rights, all statements under interrogation are prohibited from being used as evidence in court proceedings.

Push for mandatory recording of interrogations in the U.S.

By the 2000s, a growing movement calls for the mandatory electronic recording of all custodial interrogations in the United States. "Electronic recording" describes the process of recording interrogations from start to finish. This is in contrast to a "taped" or "recorded confession," which typically only includes the final statement of the suspect. "Taped interrogation" is the traditional term for this process; however, as analog is becoming less and less common, statutes and scholars are referring to the process as "electronically recording" interviews or interrogations. Alaska,Electronic Recording of Interrogations
Center for Policy Alternatives
Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, and Wisconsin are the only states to require taped interrogation. New Jersey's taping requirement started on January 1, 2006. Massachusetts allows jury instructions that state that the courts prefer taped interrogations. Commander Neil Nelson of the St. Paul Police Department, an expert in taped interrogation, has described taped interrogation in Minnesota as the "best thing ever rammed down our throats".

See also

* Covert interrogation * Interrogation of Saddam Hussein * Torture


External links

* * {{Authority control Interrogations, Law enforcement