Police Interrogation: Repeating as a Way of Challenging and Expressing Scepticism

Marijana Cerović


Using the method of Conversation Analysis this paper explores an interactional technique of challenging or expressing scepticism in the context of police interrogation. The sequence starts with questioning officers’ turns, following which suspects produce answers which are evasive, invoke honesty, give resistance or try to obstruct the line of interrogation. The detectives treat these kinds of answers from the suspects, among other ways, by means of full or partial repeats of the received answer. The repeats have some properties of repair initiation as they indicate that there is some sort of trouble with the received answer, however, since they express detectives’ scepticism and non-acceptance of the received answer, rather than looking into repairing the trouble, they have a potentially damaging effect. This technique of the detectives, used to undermine the suspects’ position creates a general atmosphere of intimidation, which is revealed through suspects’ post-repeat turns. Responses to such detectives’ turns can be defensive, the defensiveness being expressed by no response from the suspect, a number of defensive elements in the response turn design, overlapping, defending the initial position and so on.

DOI: 10.5901/mjss.2014.v5n13p113

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Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences ISSN 2039-9340(Print) ISSN 2039-2117(Online)

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