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University of Sunderland develops digital tool for forensic interviews

25/06/21

Mark Say Managing Editor

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A lecturer at the University of Sunderland has developed a computer program to support forensic interviews in policing and national security.

Laura Farrugia

Dr Laura Farrugia (pictured), senior lecturer and programme leader for BSc forensic psychology, has designed the Forensic Interview Trace (FIT) tool to record the structure, content and characteristics of a forensic interview involving victims, witnesses, suspects and persons of interest.

Its development has been funded by the Ministry of Defence’s Defence and Security Accelerator and it will be made available to police officers to enhance investigational skills and develop advantages in behavioural capability and information.

Farrugia commented: “Grounded within psychological concepts such as memory, information retrieval and interpersonal communication and rapport building, the tool is being developed to address some of the challenges associated with understanding human behaviour within the interview process, with a particular focus on interviewer and interviewee behaviour.

“As such, the tool will be of benefit for all police services in England and Wales, but also those on an international level.”

Investing in tech capability

She added: “Investing in IT and technological capabilities is part of the Government’s ongoing Technology Innovation Strategy and is a priority for defence and security capabilities.

“Furthermore, given the type of complex investigation that UK police services and security agencies are involved in, there is a real need to develop behavioural capability and information advantage when conducting interviews with persons of interest involved in ongoing investigations.”

She said the university is encouraging police forces to becoming involved in a pilot project for further development to make it suitable for use in the field, and that there are plans to later make it available on a commercial basis.

Image from the University of Sunderland

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