Test Cover Image of:  The Discourse of Police Interviews

The Discourse of Police Interviews

Edited by: Marianne Mason and Frances Rock
Forensic linguistics, or the study of language and the law, is a growing field of scholarly and public interest. Yet books on the subject have predominantly been introductions to the field or aimed at summarizing its applications, often with a focus on a single aspect of the legal system. The Discourse of Police Interviews aims to further the discussion by focusing exclusively on how police interviews are constructed and used to investigate and prosecute crimes.

The first book to focus exclusively on police interview dialogue, The Discourse of Police Interviews examines leading debates, approaches, and topics in contemporary police interview research. Among other topics, the book explores the sociolegal, psychological, and discursive framework of popular police interview techniques employed in the United States and the United Kingdom, such as PEACE and Reid, and the discursive practices of institutional representatives like police officers and interpreters that can influence the construction and quality of linguistic evidence. Together, the contributions situate the police interview as part of a complex, and multistage, criminal justice process. Despite the role of discourse in potentially shaping legal outcomes, the use of linguistic analysis to understand the legal process is yet to be fully and uniformly embraced, and the book will be of interest to both scholars and practitioners in a variety of fields, such as linguistic anthropology, interpreting studies, criminology, law, and sociology.

Author Information

Marianne Mason is assistant professor of translation and interpreting studies and linguistics at James Madison University. She is the author of Courtroom Interpreting. Frances Rock is a reader in the Centre for Language and Communication Research at Cardiff University and a founding member of the forensic linguistics research network Cardiff Language and Law.


The Discourse of Police Interviews is poised to make an important contribution to forensic discourse analysis and language study. The book is useful in that it brings many approaches to and analyses of policing and police discourse in one place, making it useful for teaching and research alike. The topic is timely, the chapters are well written, and the analyses are tight and compelling and sophisticated while remaining clear.”
— Jennifer Andrus, University of Utah

“To my knowledge, there are no other edited volumes devoted exclusively to the discourse of police interviews and interrogations. This book is thus essential reading for scholars and students of language and the law. All of the chapters are empirically grounded, drawing their data from actual police interviews and interrogations. A number of the chapters investigate what the editors refer to as the ‘institutionally endorsed’ methods and techniques; others examine specific discursive practices that have an influence on the kind of ‘evidence’ to emerge from police interviews/interrogations, including the way that police officers and interpreters can shape the trajectory of these interactions. Still others examine the changes that occur when police interviews are transformed into written police records, records which in some jurisdictions play a substantive role in trials.”
— Susan Ehrlich, York University

Audience: Professional and scholarly;