Episode 01.
The Founding Fathers of Investigative Interviewing in Norway

Welcome to “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt,” a podcast series that welcomes you into the world of Investigative Interviewing – an ethical and non-coercive method for questioning victims, witnesses and suspects of crimes.

In this first episode of “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt”, we explore the origins and transformative journey of Investigative Interviewing in Norway with pioneers Dr. Ivar A. Fahsing and Dr. Asbjørn Rachlew. They discuss their early challenges in shifting law enforcement mindsets and the strategic moves to take their innovative methods to a global audience.

The episode examines the necessity of exporting Norwegian expertise in Investigative Interviewing and highlights the collaboration between the public sector and commercial tech developments to aid police work.

Listen in as Fahsing and Rachlew share insights on building rapport in interviews and the critical phases and outcomes of the Investigative Interviewing process.

About the guests

Ivar A Fahsing (PhD) is a detective chief superintendent and associate professor at the Norwegian Police University College. Co-author of the UNPOL manual on investigative interviewing in cooperation with the Norwegian Centre of Human Rights. He has published widely in the field of investigative management and decision-making, investigative interviewing, detective expertise, knowledge-management and organised crime. He has 15 years of experience as a senior detective in the Oslo Police department and at the National Criminal Investigation Service of Norway.

Asbjørn Rachlew (PhD) is a former homicide investigator at the Oslo Police District and in 2009 he defended his doctoral thesis, Justice Errors in the Police Investigation. Rachlew was a professional adviser during the interrogations of Anders Behring Breivik after the 22 July terror. Today he is a researcher at the Norwegian Center for Human Rights, public speaker and expert on investigative interviewing.




Davidhorn – Beyond A Reasonable Doubt podcast – S01E01 – Ivar Fahsing and Asbjørn Rachlew


Asbjørn Rachlew: We’re going to talk about investigative interviewing and that’s a huge topic in itself. But not bringing in the history would be impossible when we talk about investigative interviewing.

Ivar Fahsing: Absolutely. So the historical, should we say, perspective? But before we get into that, the first time you and I about met that was back in 1990. It was at the police Academy in Oslo.


Their story goes way back. Join us as we explore the journey of the founding fathers of Investigative Interviewing in Norway—Dr. Ivar Fahsing and Dr. Asbjørn Rachlew. Together, they have worked tirelessly to change the mindsets of law enforcement both in Norway and globally. Listen to how it all started, right here on the first episode of ‘Beyond a Reasonable Doubt’ with me, Børge Hansen, CEO of Davidhorn.


AR: And then we got this robbery case, the most famous robbery, should we say, gang in Norway. They were called Tveita Gang. And we got that case, you and I.

IF: Yeah.

AR: It was a break in. It was not a robbery. It was a shock break.

IF: Yes, a shock break in they made. But no, it wasn’t. Was it Asbjørn? You’re talking about the David Anderson break? But wasn’t that done concealment?


IF: Didn’t they park a car outside and go in? It looked like a car that was collecting carpets for the cleaning from the entrance area. And they hid behind that car and broke in. So it was the opposite of a shock break in that way that people were just standing outside with their backs towards the windows of this very shop while it was looted.


But it’s interesting how memory works.

AR: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

IF: Because I remember that most of the other cases they did have, they went in quite brutally, and they never did robberies, I think, but they did break-ins in a spectacular way. But, I think, this case specifically was done in a very concealed way. And no one actually understood what had happened until people who actually worked there came in a couple of hours later in the morning.


So that was part of our investigative problem, wasn’t that? No one actually saw what they did; Paul Anger was the mastermind, and he had been planning this very thoroughly. So he went inside there and saw where the alarm had gone off. Where does it not go off? So he had a safe route through the whole shop. How you could go like a maze and steal these things, where are the most valuable things?


What should you get and then get out again. And himself, he didn’t do it because he was the planner, so he got other people to do it. He didn’t immediately connect to the crime. And that led us to the bigger project when the famous painting Scream was stolen.


That had exactly the same pattern.

AR: Yeah.


IF: And that was big and then we were really in with the big guys at the CID. Both of us.

AR: Yeah.

IF: And that was, I think seen already then as a quite important recognition for both of us. We felt proud.

AR: Yeah.


IF: Because, as you said, becoming a detective at that level at the beginning of the 90s was actually a huge step. We got to wear suits. There was no messing around. There were no jeans at that time at the CID. We got a higher salary, even got higher rank. We became sergeants overnight.


We went from constables to sergeants in one move. Relatively quickly at least.

AR: Yeah.

IF: So it was also a promotion.

AR: Absolutely. And that brought us from the downtown to the headquarters where…

IF: Where all the big guns were. And people you just heard of, legends. People you saw in the media.


AR: Oh, yeah.

IF: And now, all of a sudden, we were part of that. There was an aura of, you know, this is not a place for everybody. You had that feeling that you were privileged or handpicked.

AR: Yeah. Handpicked. Yeah. We can talk about the old days, and I mean, there are so many stories, but we are here to talk about investigative interviewing. You know, the the most important part of our job as detectives – how to interview witnesses, victims and suspects of course.


IF: It’s interesting to take that back to the 90s because, at that time, we were not head of the investigations. We were, you could say, rising stars in a way, young with potential.


But where you could prove your potential was very often in the interviews, wasn’t it? And at that time, it’s not a secret that when it was difficult, we needed a confession.

AR: Yeah.


IF: And that’s where you were really good. If you had cases where you had less evidence, and you needed to push and help them to put it that way to make that confession. Wasn’t it?


AR: Absolutely. When I travel around the world now, today, 30 years later, you know, we’ll come back to that, but we do a lot of training and lectures and talks around the world with the United Nations and the Council of Europe, etcetera. And I always start my lecture with this very opening. Like most detectives around the world, I was taught to believe that once we had a suspect, it was my job to get him to confess.


IF: Absolutely.

AR: I mean, some detectives took that angle, should we say, harder than others. But I was definitely into that view of the world, and I was applauded, you know.


IF: It gave a lot of status. If you could deliver that. It was such a relief because then you can slowly move on to the next case. But as you probably remember, I was not of the same opinion. I could argue with people in tears and say that it doesn’t make sense what you’re saying, but I was not in the same way as you, focused on necessarily a confession. I remember it was specifically one case where this came to really surface strongly. It was an attempted murder, wasn’t it, for the Outlaws president?


AR: Yeah, that’s right. So we’re back in mid 90s, the biker war in Oslo between Hell’s Angels and Bandidos. But there were other gangs as well, as you said, the Outlaws etcetera. And they were shooting at each other and killing each other, and they were even bombs in Norway at the time. And one of the cases certainly was a shooting.


And we finally had a suspect, and we had evidence against him that he was probably the shooter. But the big question was, I would presume, because we wanted the gang leaders, we wanted the heads of Hell’s Angels or whatever. And I remember we were on the case and I remember at the time we didn’t have any recordings, you know, so we couldn’t follow the interviews or the interrogations.


But I read the reports, and you were interviewing the suspect, and in my opinion, you were not getting anywhere. And in my world at the time that was, you did not get him to confess who gave him the weapons and who ordered the killings, etcetera. So I went to our senior investigating officer Anne Karin, and I said, OK, listen, Ivar has been interviewing this guy now for weeks, and we’re not getting any results.


And I think that we should be tougher on them. And she looked at me and: Yeah? You wanna give it a go? And I said, yeah, I’m ready. And you were involved in the discussion, and you said, OK, if you want to try that. But I feel I communicate well, we’re talking well.

IF: Yeah. I don’t know if everything he says is true, but he wants to talk to me.

AR: You were gathering information, but to me at the time…


IF: We didn’t move ground quickly.

AR: Yeah, exactly. And it was decided then that I would take over the interview of the suspect. And I think that interview lasted for 5 minutes or something because I came in there and really, you know, from the top came down on him and, you know, nothing physical or anything. I mean we never took part in any of that in Norway. We were lucky in that way that our colleagues before us abandoned all kinds of physical techniques. There was no physical torture. But I was certainly coming down on him and then he just, I think he just stood up and said I don’t want to…

IF: Take me back to the cell.

AR: Yeah, and that was it. No more information for us.

IF: What’s his name? You remember? Jan-Ivar. But he said it was an act of self-defence. He was also shot in the foot because I remember the first interviews with him I had to take at the hospital.


And how could I know without having any evidence that this was actually an attempted murder? You know, I could not know that. He said: I went there, yes, I was armed because I was kind of a gang war going on and I was kind of visiting an enemy of ours. But I went there with different intentions and it didn’t entirely match the stories of the other people. But we didn’t really know who started the shooting and what was the reason for it. So there was no clear motive like in other cases like we had where you could see A started B and B started C and it was much clearer in, you know, sequence of things. I was lacking that here. So I didn’t really know and I just tried to find out.


So for me that was my job to understand what did happen then? And you know, the victim could be telling the truth, but so could the suspect?

AR: Absolutely.


IF: But at the same time we did a lot of interviews. In a lot of high-profile cases.

AR: I wanted to become like, you know, because that task force was…


IF: Very potent, yes.

AR: These were the most famous detectives, at least in Oslo. You know, these were the ones, they were given the task to travel around, live at the hotels and solve all these cases, you know, high profile cases, a lot of media, etcetera. And then, yeah, they brought me along as a recruit, and I was even allowed to sit in and learn from the detective at the time who was regarded as the best interviewer in Norway.


Our dear colleague and friend Stian Elle.

IF: Yeah, that’s true. He was definitely someone who we admired. He had this really special gift of creating trust and confessions, and you wanted to learn from the best. And you had an opportunity there.

AR: Yeah, I did. I did.

IF: And shortly after, he started at Kripos.

AR: That’s right. His reputation brought him then to the National Homicide Squad in Norway. So he left Oslo Police District. And that became somehow his destiny because in 1995 Birgitte Tengs was murdered on the West Coast of Norway.


This was a high-profile case in Norway. When a young girl is murdered just outside her home, you know, heavy pressure is put on the police. We had to solve that one. And I was not involved in the investigation because I worked in Oslo. But clearly, the pressure was on, and it was a difficult case. No immediate evidence, no witnesses, and the case remained unsolved for almost two years.

IF: It did.

AR: Yeah. And can you imagine?

IF: And they used profiling. It was some kind of idea. I remember it was a lot of things that were experimented on that case, and as they were building up a pressure.


And I think without the evidence, they started to profile that it could be this cousin of Birgitte. That could be because he was seen as goofy, and there were some incidents with girls in the school, and he was seen as having some kind of, you know, mildly deviant sexual behaviour. They thought about it, and so they actually brought in a profiler from Stockholm and they did something that is really, really interesting.


And we’ve seen elsewhere later that not only did he make the profile, but he also made a conclusion that now the guy they addressed it probably was the guilty person.


And I think that’s something that I think hasn’t been discussed in detail. Why did Stian Elle feel that he could go so far in pressuring this young boy? And I think that the psychological support he, as an interviewer, got from the Swedish psychiatrist…

AR: Ohh, yeah, yeah

IF: …was probably very important. I happen to know 20 years later how important that was, but what we have to tell the listener is that Stian Elle, one of our idols, at least one of my idols as a detective interviewer,


when he finally got the cousin to confess after interrogations, after interviews, hours after hours, days after days, weeks after weeks, keep in mind the cousin was in full isolation. After at least 180 hours, the cousin confessed, but he retracted his confession very quickly. He said: I never had any memory of it, but he had signed the police statement. Of course, back in those days, we didn’t use recordings.


But he had signed this odd statement confessing, and he was convicted in the first trial and he didn’t, in all fairness, if I’ve understood it correctly, he didn’t, as I’ve heard it, deny outright. He said if you said I did it, the fact is that if that is the case, I can’t remember it.

AR: Yeah.


IF: Is that just a myth?

AR: No. Well, the thing is that in the beginning, he said I had nothing to do with it. But then, and this idea, I think, came from the Swedish psychiatrist who, and you’re quite right, he had made a profile, and he said it fits exactly on the cousin. Then the Norwegian police were advised to conduct interrogations, then taken back to the cell in isolation and told him, OK, we want you now to do homework; we want you now to write a script of how you think Birgitte was killed.


But after weeks and hours and hours and days and weeks, this story, I’ve read it, it’s like a movie, you know, eventually these two stories kind of merge.

IF: Yeah, they did miraculously, and Stian and KRIPOS at that time, they had a method where they kind of claimed that the interior of the suspect didn’t know the details from the case, from the crime scene. I think he used words: there was a Chinese Wall between me and the evidence. So I couldn’t have transferred those words in his mouth.

AR: Yeah. And we know today that not only was that false information from the police, it could be a lie as well. But what we do know from research on false confessions later on, Brandon Garrett in the United States, has looked into false confessions, 40 of them in the first study.


And what is so interesting about Brandon Garrett’s studies is that he has documented that in these 40 cases of proven false confessions, the judge convicted the innocent based on the false confession due to the fact that the confession contained details that only the perpetrator could have known. And Brandon Garrett did one more thing.


He managed to document that the police and the prosecution service in 38 of those 40 cases had testified under oath that those details did not come from them. But Brandon Garrett’s studies show, like my studies of the cousin’s confessions, that the details came from the police through leading questions, among other things.


IF: It’s really interesting because when you think about that, we’re in 2024. Think about how interesting it would have been to have those interviews on tape.


If we really had them, we probably wouldn’t have been sitting here discussing these things because we would have known. And I think we can probably go even further because I think the Norwegian police at that time didn’t have training. And as you said, we were really proud of Stian Elle when he got this confession, and both you and I called him or texted him. We probably thought that was good police work. But despite that, it was accepted, but we knew deep down that these kinds of pressures, especially when they told him to write a story while he already said he didn’t do it.


So it was against the legislation and I would at least think that if that was on tape, probably the police would have constrained themself.

AR: Absolutely

IF: One thing is we can document exactly what was said. I mean, probably, there would be an effect that they would be a little bit more afraid of going that far in their manipulation of their leading questions. And it would become evident then that they had transferred the evidence to the suspect and their leading questions and the pressures and expectations.


But I remember we said that at that time to the legendary defence lawyer Tor Erling Staff. Because when we started the first training in Norway, and we started recording, he said: Well, I hear what you’re saying. I’m kind of happy, but I’m not really, he said. Because what will happen is that you will just move the pressure outside of the interview room. So you will do it anyway. He didn’t trust us at all.

AR: No, he didn’t trust us. And I would say rightly so. You’re absolutely right. Interrogators like myself could not have gone as far in my pressures and in my manipulations and etcetera if there were recordings of the whole thing. That’s undoubtedly, because if the defence lawyers got hold of those tapes and they would, recording is part of the case files.


Well, and then had brought it to the courts, the courts would not have accepted it as evidence. So we undoubtedly would have saved a lot of errors of justice and a lot of wrongful convictions if we had introduced recording of police interviews. But it has to be mandatory recording. It can’t be the police deciding which interview to record. No, it has to be mandatory recorded. That’s number one. And #2 is that the entire interview has to be recorded.

IF: Absolutely.


AR: And this famous defence lawyer objected. He was afraid that we would conduct informal talks down in the cell or the staircase up to the interview room etcetera, you know, because they didn’t trust us. So when we introduced recordings in, should we say…


IF: 2000, 1999?

AR: Yeah, we made sure that we did not conduct any informal talks with the suspects prior to the interview. And in fact, we brought it into our methodology.

IF: To ask them.

AR: Yeah. Have you and I met before? I met you downstairs. You picked me up. OK. What did we talk about? We talked about the football game, Liverpool or whatever. And did we talk about anything else? No, no. OK. And then we introduced, and this is my third point related to how electronically recorded interviews must be: #1 the entire interview #2 – there must be no informal talks outside the formal interview and #3 the fundamental safeguards that all suspects have, must be explained on tape.


IF: Absolutely.

AR: It is a highly important part of the interview. We call it the formal part.

IF: Well, how were you empowered? How did we actually inform you about why you were here? You’re right. That’s what makes it into an interview, isn’t it? And produce the evidence. Without that, this is just a conversation.


But I was thinking when we were talking about documentation, because yes, one the legal side of it, but one big part here is that police officers do this despite the fact that they know it’s outright or illegal or at least bending the rules. And that’s what I really think is interesting when we did that in the 90s. We knew that we were bending the rules to get results.


Very often today, when we travel around, you and I have a fantastic opportunity to go and share our experiences from China to Brazil. You just came back from Suriname in South America. Just before Christmas, I was in Antigua. And what we see is that when we get into heated discussions about how to do it, they actually know that they’re breaching fundamental international conventions on human rights, and particularly the civil and political rights that are Article 14, where it’s explicitly said that you should know why you’re here.


You should have legal counsel and the possibility to talk to a lawyer.

AR: Absolutely.

IF: And you should have the right to sign it and you have the right not to incriminate yourself. And all detectives know that when we, in heated discussion, remind them of this convention that is from 1966, then all of a sudden, the discussion changes. Well, so we’re gonna play by the rules. Is that what you’re saying? Yes.


So that’s interesting that an important part of what we today call investigative interviewing is actually following the rules. Yeah, and I think it’s undercommunicated that the rules have been there for a long time.


The presumption of innocence and the right to silence are long-standing principles that go back to the early Roman Empire. And we’re still reproducing the same mistakes of a society that needs answers in difficult cases. And the police and prosecutions, as agents of that pressure, directed that pressure on that suspect because now we need someone to convict. I think you’re probably right about it a lot in your PhD thesis. It’s what we can call a noble cause corruption. Because you think that you actually convicted the right guy.


AR: Yes, I mean I’ve been an expert witness before the Norwegian courts quite a few times in these very difficult cases. So you’ve been in a couple of them yourself, and I’ve not come across one case in which my colleagues or the police made sure that an innocent man was convicted. They believed they had the right man. They convinced themselves. I mean, if you look back to the old techniques, they were written in 1987 in Norway. This was the first article written on police interviewing in 1987 by two highly renowned detectives and leaders within the Norwegian police.


And they actually wrote that when you have a suspect in front of you, you have to convince yourself that he is the guilty one. You must never lose that inner confidence that he is the perpetrator. That’s how we were taught to motivate ourselves. It was confession-driven.

IF: It was seen as a weakness to think that someone may be innocent. Yeah, that’s not your job. No, leave that to himself or the defence lawyer or someone else. But it’s not our job. You’re not focused enough.

AR: And as you said, this was not the way to operationalise the presumption of innocence.


But it was not before this kind of attitude or culture, confession culture, they called it in the UK, the cuff culture. It was not before it had created wrongful convictions after wrongful convictions in the United Kingdom, in which the government in the UK, said that enough is enough and ordered mandatory recordings of all interviews of suspects back in 1984.


IF: Yep. The law came in 84 and then took a couple of years to actually get it done. So I think 86 was when it actually commenced during the interview recordings.

AR: Right. And then interesting things started to happen.

IF: Just say what would have happened if we had this on tape all of a sudden? Yeah, they did, didn’t they?

AR: They did. This also allowed researchers to look, listen to and give advice and start developing methodology, an alternative. Because if you take away a tool from a practitioner, in our case, that tool was manipulation; in many countries, that tool is still torture, physical torture, yes. Now if you take away a tool from a practitioner, you have to provide him or her with an alternative, an alternative they find applicable that they can use to solve crime. And that’s the paradigm shift started in the UK back in the early 1990s.

IF: You had this legendary report.


We have to say it was actually ordered by the Home Office. It was John Baldwin who got the exclusive permission to actually look into 400 audio-taped interviews, he didn’t slaughter them, but he said there is absolutely no sign of any skill here. And some of the people who are regarded as the best are probably the most dangerous and say they’re playing with fire. And what these people need is not advanced psychology.


They said they need basic social and communication skills. I think it’s almost word by word what he said. It’s such an interesting testimony. You should think that police officers had to talk to people as a profession.

AR: Absolutely. That started what we today know as investigative interviewing, research-based interviewing techniques founded in both human rights and social science about communication skills, how human memory works, and how you know all this. But it also in the UK needed agents of change from within the police to really, should we say, get things going and change the culture?

IF: Yeah. You couldn’t kind of accuse the place from the outside. Of course, defence lawyers did.


That was more or less seen as normal,  but at that time, you know, you had Baldwin’s report 1992, but the same year or was it the year after Eric Shepherd was one of the guys that also inspired you and me and we started to read texts when we later understood there are actually text and literature and research on this. I think that’s probably one of the texts that was most interesting because he called it an ethical interview. He has brought in a very different dimension: ethics.


He was the one who said there is a cuff culture, meaning that you are taking with you that order and control and the use of force that the police are allowed to use if necessary in the streets. But when you’re a detective, that’s no longer your job. You are here purely to investigate with an open mind. And you shouldn’t use the same kind of controlled measures that you think you’re entitled to just because you’re a cop. And I think they’ve just messed it up.


And I think also Eric who, at least as far as I can see in the literature, brought in general communication skills. How should this be done then? What are the basics of interpersonal communication and he kind of opened up those doors that we’re still exploring.

AR: Absolutely. He wrote the article Ethical Interviewing. It was a powerful article. It was highly critical towards the police. But it was so powerful that when I came back from my studies in the UK and then was given the task to develop and bring this knowledge from the UK about the research and investigative interviewing.


I told my bosses, my colleagues here in Norway, we need to read something, you know, we have to, we can’t only have a course. We have to have some literature. But there was nothing in Norwegian. But then I asked if I could get actually a month or so off duty to just to translate Eric Shepherd’s Ethical interviewing.


Because I thought that that was the most important text in order to change the mindset. Because that’s what we’re talking about. We need to change our mindset.

IF: The change of the mindset. And what is doing this in the legal, scientifically based way? What is it really? And then I remember also you brought another document and that was the trainers manual from Merseyside.


How to train investigative interviewing that was a very early manual. I think it was already from 1995.

AR: Yeah, 94 I think in Merseyside Police.

IF: Yeah. So then, and it’s interesting to think about it now, Ray Bull, of course, he’s an absolute legend in this game.


And we can both be lucky enough to regard him as a dear friend.

AR: Yes, absolutely, certainly one of the pioneers. And we already mentioned Eric Shepherd, and then, of course, you had Tom Williamson, another agent of change, agents of change from within the police.

IF: Tom Williamson was on a high level. He was a high-ranking officer. Yeah, already early on, he went all the way to commander and did training, did academic studies just like we did and realised the need for change.


And he was probably brave enough to verbalise it. And I remember when we were, you and me, we were starting to criticise or at least verbalise the need for change. You at Oslo Police, me at KRIPOS. Just knowing that a guy like Tom Williamson had just done that a couple of years back and 10 years back he went exactly the same path.


It was so inspirational.

AR: Absolutely.

IF: And motivational. We felt a little bit more safe.

AR: It gave us confidence. It gave us confidence when the UK had, you know, changed its entire police force and introduced mandatory recording of all suspects interviews. And it gave us confidence that that was the right way forward.

IF: Recording, training all detectives or actually all police officers were trained.


Exactly the same fundamental methods, not too advanced, no, but enough to take you a long way. Fundamental skills you have to practise and practise again, and it’s not advanced psychology. The majority of officers need those practical skills.


I remember one of the most rewarding moments was in 2006 when we were actually invited to the first world conference on interviewing in Europe where we were invited to speak. That was a big moment. And Tom Williamson was the organiser.

AR: Yeah, he was.

IF: And meeting him for you and me was a big thing. Yeah, at least it was for me.

AR: Of course, of course. And for some reason, probably the paper that we had handed in, describing the talk we were going to hold, we were actually put on the main stage, the huge auditorium at the university.


I was so nervous.

IF: And in English, we both had done our masters in England at the time, but still giving a lecture to such an audience. And on top of that, after the lecture, he asked us to do a book chapter in his coming book.

AR: Tom Williamson came almost running towards us after the presentation that we had given and, and said you guys have to take part in the book and we did.


And today that paradigm shift is now thanks to the cooperation, I would definitely say between the Norwegian Police and the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights, because at a certain point in our career, we got engaged with the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights because they have been travelling around the world telling the police what not to do. Don’t do this, don’t do that.


If you do that, you will be punished. But I think one of their researchers listened to our lectures here in Norway and then they realised that this is the alternative. This is how to actually do it. And that’s 15 years ago. And we haven’t been home since. And the testimony that we can bring from Norway that this is the way forward. Because if you talk to Norwegian police officers today, police officers had experience before investigative interviewing and electronic recording of the entire interview and after the introduction of it.


And ask them today, what do you think? Because there were colleagues that were sceptical, of course, not only to the new methodology, but certainly also to recording: Why should we record this? Can’t we trust the police anymore, etcetera, etcetera?

IF: It was seen as the end of interviews.

AR: Yeah, it was. It was by some, definitely by many. But when you ask police officers today, none of them and I feel quite confident, none of them wants to go back to the old system without recording. You remember how it was to stand in the big trials in the courts as one of the main witnesses for the prosecution and have nothing but a written paper to back up your argument. Today testifying in court with electronic recording of the entire session is a different world.


And, of course, you have to be professional.

IF: It’s a daylight test. You know, the way you do your job and it makes you probably less reluctant to actually prepare what you’re doing. Plan it, and do it in the best way as you actually can because you know that one day, some people might actually look into this.

AR: And the other thing is that there were colleagues, police officers who were sceptical, those who were against interviewing, they said that, as you said, it was seen as the end of interviewing. And one of the arguments or beliefs was that the suspect is never going to talk to us now. We’re never going to get any confessions now with the microphones and the cameras, etcetera. They will hamper the communication. But it didn’t.

IF: Four or five years after we started doing this, or probably even quicker, the prosecutors came and said, hey, guys, you’re getting too much information. So they kind of had to stop the wave of information hitting them.


And rightly so, because we were documenting. All of a sudden, we understood how effective this tool was. And how much information there’s actually there and how much information we have stopped while using the close question, the confession focus and typing as you go. But why did Tom Williamson really want us to do that lecture? And why did he want us to do that book chapter? Because there was also something that we brought along that the Peace model didn’t have. It was a different way of dealing with evidence evaluation.


Because we were actually evaluating evidence in a very different way than our colleagues and ourselves indeed had done in the past. So instead of just looking for things that confirmed the guilt, we were now actively, and that’s the model we picked up in Sweden. We later found out that it stems from a professor in law who’s seen how the Supreme Court in Sweden actually argue when they say that this guy should be acquitted or not. So what does the expression mean beyond a reasonable doubt? And he said it means that when you have to test whether there are any other stories or hypotheses that can explain the same evidence.


And if there aren’t, and if you now can rule them out, then you might convict. But if there are any other stories or ideas around how this evidence might have arisen, then there is doubt, and the defendant should be acquitted.

AR: Absolutely.

IF: So that’s the paradigm shift. I think also that we were lucky enough to bring to England, at least at that time. Over time you and me, we’re not just dealing with interviews anymore.


It’s more about how to think like a detective and how to evaluate evidence. So that’s the journey we’ve been lucky enough to not only be passengers, we’ve been in the front seat and rightly so with a lot of other very, very good colleagues from both Oslo Police and KRIPOS and different passes in the Norwegian police. We probably have changed much more than just interviewing.

AR: Ohh yes, absolutely. We changed the mindset of the detectives, and of course, later on, I did my PhD in errors of justice. And identifying what was the underlying cause of all these errors of justice. Well, you know, these wrongful convictions. It took me 2-3 years into the reading of the literature. Then I realised it was due to cognitive biases. It was tunnel vision. It was confirmation bias. But I was finished with my PhD.


So that was my conclusion. And then you started your PhD and started right there and did your PhD on decision-making. But it started with interviewing, you know, going from confession orientated, which is confirmative, which is very dangerous. I mean, and as you with the PhD in decision making, you know, what does that do to your methodology and your thinking and evaluation of evidence? If your mindset is to confirm your hypothesis?


IF: And it’s interesting though, that I think we would probably put down the landing gear now for this conversation because we’re arriving at least to the first milestone there. We can say that. That’s why it’s called investigative interviewing. Your job is to investigate. Find your information. You can actually leave it to someone else to conclude. That has never been your job as an officer and never will be.

AR: So research and human rights go hand in hand.


And then you have technology, as we’ve also mentioned, and what an exciting future we’re headed towards. I mean, one thing is the electronic recording of the entire session and doing it safely, etcetera. It should be mandatory all over the world and I’m quite sure it will at a certain point. But then you have speech-to-text and accurate summaries.


IF: No, it’s exciting, but hopefully, it will be taken in. As you said, you found towards the end of your PhD that the common mistake here is that we’re simplifying it. We’re just taking in one solution. It’s caused by a cognitive function that just boils down to what I can cope with. Now, what we are recommending is to cope with complexity.


We take in all the possible explanations. And we’re supposed to check that against all possible evidence. So, of course, that level of complexity requires something more than the human brain. Then we do need tools that can, as you said, gather exactly all the information documented but also do cross-checking for us, maybe come up with some links. In that case, over there, there was someone with the same car, or they had a similar modus operandi.


They did it the same way… Is that something you should track? Give you the leads that help you handle this complexity, and probably break it down so that you can chunk it into evidence topics. And so I think that where we are now, we know what to do, but we need technological help, how to do it better where our brains can’t cope with it. We need a tool not to make conclusions for us but to help us make better decisions.


AR: Yes, absolutely. We just started, and the direction is pointed towards scientific research and technological development. We’re just at the beginning. Sometimes, we talk about medicine. I mean, it’s not that long ago it was dangerous to be at a hospital, you know, because the poor doctors didn’t have methodology or equipment or knowledge. And that’s where the diseases were, you know, and look at today, how have they advanced through science, through methodology.


IF: interpretation of evidence.

AR: And of course, electronic devices that can help you do your job, document and do it right.

IF: And knowledge sharing, not to mention one of the articles we’ve written: If the police knew what the police know, we would have solved almost all the cases. So it will be interesting to see where this will lead in the future.

AR: Absolutely.

IF: But that is another episode.