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Reid technique

The Reid technique is an interrogation method used to extract information from suspects unwilling to reveal it. The term is a registered trade-mark of John E. Reid and Associates, a group who offer three- to four-day training courses in the method. The technique is widely used by law-enforcement agencies in North America.

The style of a Reid technique interview is fairly fluid but has a number of defining structures. The interrogations are held in a controlled, bright but low intensity environment offering constant concealed scrutiny, with only one interrogator. The process begins with a short non-accusatory interview by another person, with questions designed to direct the subjects thinking and also provide information for the investigator in the main or accusatory interrogation. There is a break of around ten minutes between the interview and the interrogation.

The form of the interrogation is built around active persuasion by moral justification. The interrogator presents a monologue and discourages the suspect from denials or explanations, actively blocking the suspect from denial is part of the process. The interrogator progesses the suspect towards an admission by the use of alternative or contrasting questions, offering the suspect two choices - one of which is less morally challenging than the other. If the suspect acknowledges a choice the interrogation moves to non-leading questions to draw out the full confession. The identification of deceptive behaviours or symptoms in speech or body-language are part of the Reid technique tool-kit. The use of lies, threats, leading questions or inducements by the interrogator is not a sanctioned part of the Reid technique.

Often the initial confession can be extracted with suprising rapidity. With a recalcitrant interviewee the interrogation will be divided up, allowing the suspect short periods alone between longer intensive periods of interrogation.

Like many interrogation forms the Reid technique has been accused of inducing subjects to confess to something that he or she did not do. A British study has indicated that around 20 per cent of people properly interrogated are vulnerable to confess, whether guilty or not.

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