Fitness to be interviewed and psychological vulnerability: The views of doctors, lawyers and police officers
Hayes, Gwilym D.
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Forensic medical examiners, psychiatrists and clinical psychologists are increasingly being asked to evaluate police detainees' fitness for interview. The aim of the present study was to further our understanding of the psychological factors that are considered important by the relevant professional groups in this evaluation process. Consultant psychiatrists, forensic medical examiners, lawyers and police officers rated the importance of detainees' psychological vulnerabilities in terms of fitness for interview. Those most commonly identified were: confusion and disorientation, withdrawing from heroin, communication problems, a paranoid belief, and not seeming to understand simple questions. In contrast, claiming amnesia, depression and appearing suggestible and eager to please were not factors that respondents thought rendered the detainees unfit for interview. Among all groups, there appeared to be a view that an appropriate adult (AA) and a solicitor could be used interchangeably, and rarely were both seen as needed. Clearer guidelines regarding psychological vulnerabilities and the role of the appropriate adult are needed.