ANTAKI, C. and STOKOE, E., 2017. When police treat straightforward answers as uncooperative. Journal of Pragmatics, In Press.
In formal police interviews, interviewers may have institutionally mandated reasons for following up even apparently fully co-operative answers with questions that imply that the interviewee is in fact (knowingly or unknowingly) being uncooperative. From a sample of over 100 UK interviews with suspects arrested for minor offences, and 19 interviews with witnesses alleging sexual assault, we identify and analyse follow-up questions which do not presume that interviewees' apparently 'normal' answers respect the Gricean maxims of quantity, quality, relevance or manner. We identify three institutional motivations working to over-ride the normal communicative contract: to 'get the facts straight'; to prepare for later challenges; and pursue a description of events that more evidently categorizes the alleged perpetrators' behaviour as criminal.
This paper is closed access until 18 months after publication.