Politeness, face, and rapport-building in remote and face-to-face investigative interviews with witnesses

Nicci MacLeod, Gavin Oxburgh, Dave Walsh, Laura Farrugia, Alena Nash

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In guidance issued to police interviewers in England and Wales, the concept of rapport is placed front-and-centre, highlighted as a crucial element of the ‘Engage & Explain’ element of investigative interviews since the PEACE framework was widely adopted in 1993 (see CPTU 1992a, 1992b). Although rapport-building has been shown to be effective, there is little information in the research on what this means in practice – particularly in linguistic terms – and rapport is notoriously difficult to operationalise (Pounds, 2019).

This paper aims to elucidate the relationship between face-work and rapport building in investigative interviews with witnesses. To do this, a small corpus of recorded mock interviews between a PEACE-trained interviewer and research participants assuming the role of witness to a moderate crime were assembled from a larger set collected as part of a project investigating the efficiency of investigative interviews conducted online as compared to via traditional face-to-face methods . These comparisons are not the subject of this paper; rather, we attempt to map rapport-building strategies evident in the mock interviews onto understandings of face work in interaction.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Speech, Language and the Law
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 21 May 2024

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