This paper examines 90 UK police officers’ perceptions of characteristics of interviews with suspects of rape and murder involving child and adult victims. Officers rated their beliefs about how stressful they would find such interviews, the importance of confessions, their likely emotional involvement and how much empathy they would show towards the suspect. Murder cases were reported to be more stressful than rape, and confessions were deemed to be less important for respondents compared to ‘other’ officers. Officers reported that they would become more emotionally involved in cases involving children, and they would show more empathy in murder cases than rape cases. Officers were unable to provide clear and unambiguous definitions of ‘empathy’ or ‘sympathy’.