What if Witnesses are Uncooperative? – A Glimpse of Current Interviewing Practice in The Netherlands

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperAcademic


Research has informed best practice guidelines to interview witnesses however, their efficacy and application are highly dependent on the level of cooperation from the interviewee, questioning their suitability when witnesses do not cooperate. Despite its importance, how to best interview uncooperative witnesses has received little attention. We aimed to obtain an insight into current interviewing practice when conducting investigative interviews with uncooperative witnesses.

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with ten police officers working as interviewers, interviewing instructors, and researchers. Transcribed interviews were analysed following a thematic analysis.

Witness cooperation had a significant impact on interviewing style. Officers identified the lack of a specific interviewing protocol and training to gain witness cooperation challenging. This leads to intuitive interviewing, and great variance in preferred interviewing strategies and question type. While some focus on building rapport and facilitate witness protection to promote disclosure, others focus on confronting witnesses with the legal consequences of lack of cooperation and making moral appeals to overcome witness resistance.

Witnesses’ unwillingness to disclose information during investigative interviews can hinder criminal investigations. Understanding how uncooperative witnesses are interviewed informs how to improve interviewing practice that promotes cooperative reporting and facilitate eliciting complete and accurate witness accounts.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018
EventConference of the International Investigative Interviewing Research Group - Portuguese Catholic University, Porto, Portugal
Duration: 4 Jul 20186 Jul 2018
Conference number: 11th


ConferenceConference of the International Investigative Interviewing Research Group
Abbreviated titleiIIRG Conference 2018
Internet address

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