Investigative Interviewing Techniques: The PEACE Model

Investigative Interviewing Techniques: The PEACE Model

A PEACE-ful interview is more likely to yield the information you need

It sometimes seems as though there are as many interviewing techniques as there are interviewers. Some organizations use a forceful interviewing style, akin to interrogation, while some methods are all about building rapport and coaxing information out of interview subjects. But when an interviewer is in the midst of conducting a workplace investigation with a reluctant witness, a vociferous complainant and a CEO screaming for a resolution, technique can sometimes fall by the wayside.

That’s why it’s so important for an organization to have an established set of interviewing best practices for investigators to fall back on when the going gets tough. Establishing and reinforcing the use of a proven method for interviewing helps to keep investigators out of the grey area that falls somewhere between a failed interview and a lawsuit.

Download your free PEACE Method cheat sheet.

False Confessions

We’ve written before on this blog about how an interrogation-style of interviewing meant to intimidate the subject can bring about a false confession, and how dangerous and counterproductive that can be. There is probably a time and place to use these methods, but in general, it’s falling out of favor as a preferred interviewing style.

It’s far easier, and probably safer, to get a true confession or corroboration from a subject who is relaxed and secure. A subject who is fearful may not be truthful.

PEACE Model of Interviewing

One method of investigative interviewing, known as the PEACE model, assumes the above: that a relaxed subject with whom the interviewer has rapport, is more likely to cooperate. Not to mention that it’s far pleasant for both parties if the atmosphere isn’t charged with aggression and intimidation.

The PEACE Model was developed in the early 90s as a collaborative effort between law enforcement and psychologists in England and Wales. It was conceived as a way to stem the proliferation of false confessions that were resulting from an accusatory style of interviewing.

PEACE stands for:

  • Preparation and Planning
  • Engage and Explain
  • Account, Clarify and Challenge
  • Closure
  • Evaluation

A non-accusatory, information gathering approach to investigative interviewing, the PEACE model is considered to be best practice and is suitable for any type of interviewee, victim, witness or suspect.

Learn about the 5 steps of an investigation interview with your free PEACE Method cheat sheet