The Inside Information Checklist

Written By: Reid
Oct 22, 2015
In the August 2015 issue of The Police Chief magazine (published by the International Association of Chiefs of Police) Dr. Gregory DeClue has written an article entitled "The Inside Information Checklist." In this article Dr. DeClue careful examines the issue of false confessions, and in particular, the phenomena of "police contamination" - the disclosure by the investigators to the suspect of details concerning the commission of the crime. Dr. DeClue discusses the importance of "Holdback" information - details about the commission of the crime that the investigators agree to "hold back" and not reveal to anyone that they interview or interrogate during the investigation so as to use the disclosure of such information by the suspect as confirmation of the authenticity of his confession. Dr. DeClue has designed a Holdback List that he recommends investigators should use to document the holdback information in the case.

Dr. DeClue recommends that all sessions with the suspect be recorded so that a review of the recording can identify whether the "holdback" details of the crime offered by the suspect were, in fact, from his own knowledge of the crime or if they had been disclosed to the suspect by the investigators. Specifically, Dr. DeClue states:

"A review of the recording should answer important questions about the validity of the confession. Did the suspect provide inside information regarding the details of the crime?

Did the suspect include some or all of the known details that were included on the Holdback List? If so, which of those details were never mentioned by the police during their interaction with the suspect?

Did the suspect provide the details in response to open-ended questions or only in response to leading questions? For each detail provided by the suspect, was the detail an accurate match to independently collected evidence? Did the suspect provide information regarding details not known by the police prior to the interview or interrogation? If so, has subsequent investigation corroborated the suspect's story? Does each detail provided by the suspect accurately match independent evidence, or not?

If the investigation has been conducted in a conscientious manner, these are very straightforward questions. The Inside Information Checklist (IIC), as shown in Appendix 2, provides a way to organize the details of an investigation, including the details of the suspect's statement, to see if the suspect provided accurate, independently verified details that demonstrate knowledge of inside information about a crime to which he or she has confessed."
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