“I never said that”: Negotiating misunderstandings in police interviews

Chi-Hé Elder, Luna Filipović

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Police interviewers in England and Wales engage in the practice of investigative interviewing that is based on obtaining neutral, institutionally accepted account from suspects. This involves a process not only of eliciting information from suspects, but also of managing the interview by choosing topics for questioning, seeking clarification and additional details, and shaping the account to fulfil institutional requirements. Interviewers must therefore be sensitive to any unclear meanings from the suspect and avoid potential misunderstandings in order to avoid misrepresentation of account. This study uses authentic police interview data to exemplify the interactional process of meaning negotiation between police officers and suspects, examining how multiple constraints of this very restrictive communication context can affect which meanings are put on record and resolved, and which are ignored or left unresolved. The paper finishes by offering practical applicable insights about how interviewers can avoid misunderstandings in the interview room.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPragmatics and Society
Early online date13 May 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 May 2024

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