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Title: UK Police Interviews: A Linguistic Analysis of Afro-Caribbean and White British Suspect Interviews
Author: Jones, Claire E. L.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3592 0518
Awarding Body: University of Essex
Current Institution: The University of Essex pre-October 2008
Date of Award: 2008
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Given the tensions between the Afro-Caribbean community and the police in the UK, it is somewhat surprising that police interviews with suspects of different ethnicities, are underresearched in the field of sociolinguistics. Combining the analytical strengths of Conversation Analysis with the critical social stance of Critical Discourse Analysis, this study focuses on two linguistic features: overlapping. talk and so- prefaced questions, alongside repetition of questions and accusations. The results of the analysis indicate that there are important differences between the Afro-Caribbean and White British suspects regarding the responsivity to overlapping talk, this is because the Afro-Caribbean suspects display different overlapping styles to the White British suspects. The interactional consequences for suspects with a low take-up rate are considerable: suspects' accounts and denials are suppressed. However, when suspects' overlaps are taken up, their version of events gets 'heard'. The consequences for the AfroCaribbean suspects, whose overlaps got taken up less, reach beyond the level of the overlap. The police officers also suppress the Afro-Caribbean suspects' narratives through repeated questioning and by rejecting responses which do not point to guilt. The overall frequency of so- prefaced questions is low. However, there is a significant difference between the Afro-Caribbean and White British interviews regarding this feature. Upshots enable the police to challenge and constrain suspects to take up and defend new agendas which are not necessarily in tune with what the suspects said. The link between ethnicity and the differential treatment of Afro-Caribbean suspects might be considered tenuous given that the reason the Afro-Caribbean suspects get taken up less is because of when they overlap the interviewing officers, rather than because they are black. However, race and colour are made relevant by the police officers and this means that there is the potential for racist attitudes to surface. The findings from this research have implicationsJor police interviewing in the UK and potentially world-wide.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available