Australian Embassy
The Philippines

SP150511 - Opening of the Advanced Cognitive Interview Course

Speech by Ambassador Bill Tweddell
Opening of the Advanced Cognitive Interview Course
CLES Building, PNP Training, Camp Crame
11 May 2015

  • Police Director Benjie Magalong, Officer-in-Charge, Criminal Investigation and Detectives Group (CIDG), Philippine National Police (PNP)
  • Chief Superintendent Jose Erwin T Villacorte, Deputy Director, CIDG, PNP
  • Police Chief Superintendent Vicente A Loot, Director, PNP Training Service
  • Senior Superintendent John Guyguyon, Chief Anti-Organised Crime Unit, CIDG, PNP
  • Detective Superintendent Paul Hopkins: Senior Liaison Officer, Manila, Australian Federal Police (AFP);
  • Instructors from the Victoria Police; Detective Inspectors Chris Murray and Rod Arthur
  • Participants from:
    • Philippine National Police: CIDG; Directorate of Intelligence (DI); Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force (AIDSOFT); Women and Children’s Protection Centre (WCPC)
    • Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA)
    • Presidential Anti-Organised Crime Commission (PAOCC)
    • (Philippine) Bureau of Corrections (BuCor)
    • (Philippine) Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP)
    • (Philippine) National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)

Magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat.

Welcome to the Advanced Cognitive Interviewing ‘train the trainers’ course. This course is being delivered by instructors from both the Victoria Police and the Australian Federal Police.

This course is based on the PEACE model (P for planning, E for engage, A for account, C for closure, E for evaluate), and is regarded as the world’s best practice. The name of the model is very apt, given that it focuses on techniques which are at once human rights compliant whilst simultaneously shown to be the best way of obtaining accurate information from both witnesses and suspects.

The obtaining of important information from others by questioning has been undertaken by both law-abiding and non-law-abiding persons for hundreds of years. It is not unexpected for non-law-abiding criminals to resort to violence to try to gain information, but I think we would all agree that sometimes even government-sponsored questioners have gone too far, even if they were well-intentioned. The use of the rack during the Spanish Inquisition, for example, was probably taking it a bit too far (and that is not stretching the truth!).

Around the world, law enforcement members have, over the years, experimented with various methods of interviewing or, as it is sometimes called, ‘interrogating’. However, police around the world are now trying to avoid the word ‘interrogate’ as it has connotations of aggression and force.

Whilst they may well have been well-intentioned, and may have even obtained some important information that way, history has judged government members who use torture in interviewing to be undertaking a criminal act, and they have often later been prosecuted for what is known as ‘noble’ corruption. In other words, the ends do not justify the means.
In addition, there have been many, many examples around the world (particularly in war interrogations) where it has been shown that information extracted through torture or fear, often turns out to be inaccurate, as the subject merely tells the interviewer what they think they want to hear, or deliberately misleads them.

As a result of a great deal of research, which has been put into practice and tested around the world, it has been ‘discovered’ that in fact careful planning and use of simple psychology and science in interviewing, together with good rapport-building, actually achieves better and more accurate results than using force.

The term ‘cognitive interviewing’ was first utilised in the US in the early 1990s.

In 1991, a Miami woman walking through the lobby of an office building casually noticed two men standing together.

Several minutes after her departure, the men murdered a person working in the building. Police investigators determined that the woman was the only person who had observed the two suspects and could possibly describe them. In an initial standard interview with police, her memory of the men proved disappointingly sketchy.

Police brought in psychologist Ronald Fisher to help the witness remember more detail. Fisher's interview consisted of a series of memory-enhancing strategies which produced a breakthrough in the case: the woman reported a clear image of one of the suspects as he brushed the hair from in front of his eyes. She then recalled several details about his profile, including his having worn a silver earring. This led to the identification and arrest of the suspects. Fisher subsequently published his ideas, which were adopted by police throughout the US and, later, the world, as they were shown to be simple and effective.

The cognitive interview involves a number of techniques which will be covered during the course.
In summary, it leads to both witnesses and suspects giving much more accurate and relevant information compared with a traditional interview method or the use of aggression or torture.

Participants on this course have been selected for your experience and knowledge, and will find that many of the techniques in this course are not new to you. However, what this model does is to simplify the complicated as much as possible, and to provide a quick and practical method of interviewing which can be used in all circumstances, but which requires local knowledge to be most effective.

So we hope that this course gives you some new ideas, or reinforces methods which you already use, and you can adapt them where necessary and apply them in the context of the Philippines.

On behalf of my colleagues from the Australian Federal Police, I would like to thank you for your participation and thank the Victoria Police for travelling here. To the PNP, our thanks for hosting this course at your training centre.