Understanding police as an issue of social justice: How do investigators and interpreters perceive effective communication?
Howes, L, Understanding police as an issue of social justice: How do investigators and interpreters perceive effective communication?, Crime and Justice in Asia and the Global South, 10-13 July 2017, Cairns, Australia (2017) [Conference Extract]
This presentation starts from the basis that it is a human right for victims, witnesses, and
suspects to be able to understand what police officers are asking them. In Australia,
legislation, policy, and police procedures refer to the need to provide services to people,
regardless of such things as their language proficiency. When people are not proficient in
English, typically an interpreter is required to facilitate communication with police. This
study explored how experienced police investigators and interpreters perceive effective
communication. Interpreters (n = 20) of various language specialties from around Australia
and police investigators and cultural advisors (n = 20) from two Australian jurisdictions
participated in interviews or focus groups, in which they discussed their experiences in the
domain of police investigative interviews. Shared concerns about hindrances to effective
communication included: the choice of face-to-face versus telephone interpreting; the nature
of the briefing given to interpreters; and conceptions of suitable training. Police investigators
discussed the perceived investigative impacts of interpreted versus monolingual interviews.
Interpreters discussed professional constraints that might impinge on the quality of their
work. The presentation raises questions about what counts as criteria for quality in assessing
the effectiveness of interpreted investigative interviews.