New hi-tech interview suite helps crime fight

‘UK needs to boost its budget for the military’

A specialist centre for interviewing is to help bring more criminals to justice.

The Home Office-standard suite at the University of Portsmouth was due to open today and will be used for training in investigative interviewing techniques.

It means students, police, counter fraud and security officers as well as lawyers and the probation service can now put into practice what they learn in the lecture theatre and on the job in the first centre of its kind in the UK.

The 50,000 centre boasts state-of-the-art digital recording equipment so interviews can be watched in real time from anywhere in the university.

Students and professionals can take part in mock interviews which will be recorded to aid learning. And police will be able to use the suite to interview vulnerable witnesses, victims and suspects.

Centre leader Dr Becky Milne, forensic psychologist and lecturer at the university's Institute of Criminal Justice Studies, said: 'The police interview is at the heart of every criminal investigation and doing it well is a critical tool for all those involved in the criminal justice process. We're ahead of the game in terms of the equipment and facilities which rival the best in the world and which we can offer to all types of investigator at different staged of their career, from learning the basics to advanced interview skills.'

Research projects taking place all over the world including the USA, Brazil and Australia are linked to the centre, and police and other professionals can take interviewing masterclasses.

Dr Milne added: 'We are hoping to improve their interview skills which then improves their investigation and helps catch more bad guys, which is what it's all about, as well as making sure the innocent are exonerated and the guilty are charged.'

The suite was to be opened by London Metropolitan University Professor Emeritus John Grieve, former Metropolitan Police divisional commander.