CBC story on The Reid Technique

Written By: Reid
Sep 29, 2012
The Canadian Broadcasting Company recently did an 18 minute report on interrogation practices - specifically the Reid Technique - called Truth, Lies and Confessions. The report is very negative about the Reid Technique as they discussed two cases, but misrepresented the Reid Technique in a number of ways. Here is a link to the story: http://www.cbc.ca/thenational/indepthanalysis/truthliesandconfessions/

Here is a copy of the email that we sent to the CBC:

Dear Mr. Schlesinger,

I just had the opportunity to see the CBC report, "Truth, Lies and Confessions" in which you were the reporter. There are several misleading statements made about the Reid Technique that I would like to address.

Dr. Tomothy Moore, interviewed for the report, states that "the Reid Technique is guilt presumptive" - the exact opposite is true. The Reid Technique always begins with a non-accusatory interview. During this interview it is imperative that the investigator maintain a neutral and objective attitude - the interview is designed to develop investigative information that can be subsequently investigated and/or compared to the existing investigative information to help determine the subject's possible involvement in the commission of the crime. In many investigations no one is ever interrogated because the investigator never believed, based on the interview and investigative information available, that he/she saw the perpetrator. The report is very dishonest by failing to tell the audience that this non-accusatory interview is the first step in the process - the report clearly presents the accusatory interrogation process as the initial contact that the investigator has with the subject - in actuality, to do that would be utterly absurd and negligent.

There are a number of basic principles that we teach that the investigator should follow when they reach the stage of conducting an interrogation:

Do not make any promises of leniency
Do not threaten the subject with any physical harm or inevitable consequences
Do not conduct interrogations for an excessively lengthy period of time
Do not deny the subject any of their rights
Do not deny the subject the opportunity to satisfy their physical needs Be sure to withhold information about the details of the crime from the subject so that if the subject confesses he can reveal information that only the guilty would know
Exercise special cautions when questioning juveniles or individuals with mental or psychological impairments * The confession is not the end of the investigation - investigate the confession details in an effort to establish the authenticity of the subject's statement
Always be in compliance with the guidelines established by the courts

It was stated in the report that the Reid Technique "shows no interest in learning the truth, but the goal is to seek a confession." We clearly state the exact opposite in our book (which you held in your hand) "Criminal Interrogation and Confessions" - on page 5:

"The purpose of an interrogation is to learn the truth. A common misperception exists in believing that the purpose of an interrogation is to elicit a confession.... If the suspect can be eliminated [from suspicion] based on his or her behavior or explanations offered during the interrogation, the interrogation must be considered successful because the truth was learned."

Finally, the report suggest that it is more effective to conduct a non-accusatory interview in which the investigator tries to build rapport with the subject and develop the truth about the relevant investigative information without any accusations or psychological trickery (referred to as the PEACE Model) - this is exactly what we do in the Reid Technique by beginning with the interview process as outlined above - a process you conveniently did not mention in the story.

While false confessions can occur, if the proper protocol and principles are followed, they will be a rare occurrence.