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Unisa online - Peering into the psyche of police


Antoinette Basson (Research Psychologist: BMR), Dr Gavin Oxburgh (School of Social Science: Teeside University) and Prof Deon Tustin (Executive Research Director: Bureau of Market Research)

The Youth Research Unit at the Bureau of Market Research (BMR) hosted a respected forensic psychologist on 20 June 2012. Dr Gavin Oxburgh, School of Social Science at Teeside University in the United Kingdom (UK), delivered a seminar entitled, the efficacy of investigative interviewing with child witnesses and adult suspects in sexual offences cases. Click here to view Dr Oxburgh’s full presentation.

Dr Oxburgh’s discussion focused on techniques and methods that police in the UK employ to interview victims and offenders. He referred to his experiences as a military policeman for 22 years, to reinforce the notion that law enforcement officials are not adequately trained in proper interviewing techniques. That perception is what inspired him to devote his PhD to develop a more effective framework for the investigative interviewing of suspected sex offenders.

Apart from his lecturing role at Teeside University, Dr Oxburgh, is also the Chair and Founder of the International Investigative Interviewing Research Group (IIIRG) which was developed to maintain research-based practice and practice-based research amongst academic researchers and law enforcement practitioners.

Methods, pitfalls and debating the role of “open-ended” questioning during interviews were among the number of issues that he discussed during his presentation. Dr Oxburgh was also keen to discover the parallels between the police force in the UK and South Africa. He cited statistics and research which reinforced the notion that officers require more supervision and training and that interviewing approaches need to be radically adjusted. “Police officers’ attitudes can affect how suspects react. They don’t always want to be nice to suspected sexual offenders, but being open and positive towards them can illicit positive responses and reliable information.”


Dr Gavin Oxburgh (School of Social Science: Teeside University), is adamant that police require special training in interviewing to achieve the best possible results.

The audience included South African Police Service officials who were keen to discuss issues with Dr Oxburgh.


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