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Interviewing People With Autism Spectrum Disorder


1. Will you please send me copies of your policies and procedures for the interviewing under caution those people you suspect of an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or that you become aware of having an ASD during the interview? Will you please include all review dates. Will you please send me all version since 2008?

2. Can please also tell me how many investigators have been trained in accordance with those policies, the pass/ failure rate for that training and the compliance checks made to ensure continuing competence at all times amongst all those who conduct interviews. This should cover the period from 2008 to 1 June 2015.


Avon and Somerset Constabulary holds no specific policies or procedures for interviewing individuals suspected of an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and we conduct no specific training for interviewing adults with autistic spectrum disorders under caution.

We follow the national PIP (Professionalising the Investigation Process) model for interviewing suspects and witnesses during which officers are taught to look for any signs of vulnerability, which may include ASD. This is how the national guidance is summarised by Authorised Professional Practice (APP) which is a publically accessible website detailing many aspects of police practice:

Interviewing is complex. It requires learning and practice to ensure that high standards are achieved and maintained.

An interview may not be used solely for obtaining information about an investigation. It may also be used to provide witnesses and victims with important information, for example, about court proceedings, protection of identity, special measures, disclosure, intermediaries and witness protection.

In any interview it is essential that the investigator acts with professionalism and integrity. The following will support this.

Establishing a professional relationship

People are more likely to give accurate information if they trust the professionalism of the interviewer. The interviewee should be treated fairly and in accordance with legislative guidelines. Interviewers must not allow their personal opinions or beliefs to affect the way in which they deal with witnesses, victims or suspects.

The importance of being methodical

Being methodical helps both the interviewer and interviewee. Planning, preparation and ensuring that the interview plan is followed, and that answers are linked are all part of being methodical. The PEACE interview model also helps.

Personal style

Style matters because it affects the motivation of the interviewee to be accurate and relevant in their replies. Establishing a rapport means being genuinely open, interested and approachable, as well as being interested in the interviewee’s feelings or welfare.

Interview location

The physical setting can have an effect on the establishment of the relationship between those involved. The interviewer should consider the impact the location can have on themselves and the interviewee, in particular the affect the formality of designated interview rooms can have on some witnesses and victims.

Dealing with suggestibility

This is when an interviewee is influenced by what they believe the interviewer wants or expects them to say. People vary in the degree to which they are suggestible. Vulnerable people, people with learning difficulties and children, e.g, may be more suggestible and require special protection.

And further

Individual characteristics should be taken into account when planning and preparing for an interview. Although not an exhaustive list, these may include:

  • age – knowing the interviewee’s age helps to determine the best time to      undertake the interview and whether an appropriate adult/interview supporter is required
  • cultural background – this can affect the way a person prefers to be addressed, and may also indicate the need for an interpreter
  • religion or belief – e.g., interviewers may need to take prayer requirements into account
  • domestic circumstances – this can help to identify other people who may be      useful to the investigation, e.g., family, associates or neighbours
  • physical and mental health – knowledge of an existing medical condition and      ensuring that appropriate facilities are used
  • disability
  • previous contact with the police – this helps to determine factors such as the      interviewee’s reaction, and the interviewer’s safety
  • gender – in certain types of crime, e.g., sexual offences or domestic violence, it is important to consider the gender of the interviewee. Potentially sensitive issues such as an interviewee’s sexual orientation or gender assignment should be approached tactfully, if these matters become relevant to the interview.

In addition the following guides are available for Officers on the Constabulary intranet, these are also publically available:

FOI reference: 1287/16.

Date of request: 15.10.16.