Between interviewer and suspect: the role of the working alliance in investigative interviewing

M. Vanderhallen, G. Vervaeke

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


The importance of building rapport when interviewing witnesses and suspects is emphasized in many interview models developed in europe as well as in the united states. The construct of rapport shows a number of similarities with the construct of the working alliance, which is already extensively examined in therapeutic settings. Despite the important predictive role found in therapy, the role of the working alliance in investigative interviewing was not addressed in police research. The present study aims at looking into possible benefits of using the theoretical framework and the operationalisation of the working alliance in order to gain insights into the dynamics of investigative interviewing. It is examined to what extent the working alliance contributes to satisfaction with the interview from both investigators and interviewees in actual interviews. It also considers which factors are important to the working alliance. Besides therapeutic factors the study also explores significant factors from investigative interviewing literature on building rapport. Self-report questionnaires completed by investigators and interviewees show the mediating role of the working alliance between empathy, interview style, clarity of the interview and interview satisfaction. The research findings will also be discussed in the light of interview training and follow-up. More in particular, experiences with building rapport from interview training will be presented as well as experiences from a supervision project on suspect interviewing. Finally, in light of the recent salduz case law and the subsequent introduction of legal advice in europe, police officers’ views on building rapport with suspects and lawyers are touched upon.keywordssuspectworking-alliancerapportinterview stylelegal advicetraining.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInvestigative interviewing
EditorsR. Bull
Place of PublicationNew York
ISBN (Print)978-14-6149-641-0
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014

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