University of Tasmania

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Understanding police as an issue of social justice: How do investigators and interpreters perceive effective communication?

conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-24, 16:28 authored by Loene HowesLoene Howes
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.


Publication title

Crime and Justice in Asia and the Global South


School of Social Sciences

Event title

Crime and Justice in Asia and the Global South

Event Venue

Cairns, Australia

Date of Event (Start Date)


Date of Event (End Date)


Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Criminal justice

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