Investigative interviewing of children: achieving best evidence
Working together - training together
By Liz Davies and Debbie Townsend

To see sections of this book in a PDF, please click here.

Designed to help improve the investigative interviewing of child victims and witnesses in possible child abuse cases - and entirely applicable when undertaking investigative interviews with children in any other circumstances - this manual provides material for extensive, advanced-level joint training of police officers and social workers. It diligently follows statutory guidance on interviewing child victims and witnesses in criminal proceedings, in ways that are made directly relevant to possible child abuse cases. This is high level material. Its successful delivery requires the direct co-operation of appropriately skilled and experienced police officers and social workers, working together, to deliver the training. A wide range of activities is presented in order to achieve clear learning objectives and, although some choices of material are offered, trainers should follow the suggested programme, which is timed to run over a full 5-day week. Ideally any social worker or police officer undertaking this training would already have gone through the Joint Investigation in Child Protection training. It contains 20 presentations and 23 activities which include a wide range of materials suited to adult learning.

It is recommended for use in training with:
  • Social workers and police officers of varied levels of experience, knowledge and prior learning, including those who are involved in the work of Local Children's Safeguarding Boards, as well as in SSAFA (who respond to the needs of children of families in the armed forces).
  • Several teams in each constabulary: child abuse investigation, domestic violence units, complex abuse investigation, investigation of serious sexual assault, investigation of trafficking of children and of other organised crime, schools liaison, public protection, Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPAS).
  • Social workers in Children's Services with responsibility for the protection and safeguarding of children and young people, including those who work in specialist teams such as those for disabled children, unaccompanied minors and child and adolescent mental health.

  • Extensively tested, this specialist, advanced-level, high-quality and material directly addresses major current gaps in training that is available to police officers and social workers. It will enable them to work together on the investigation of possible child abuse in ways that can meet concerns raised by high profile inquiries of the last two decades... but not yet addressed. This material will help police officers and social workers to meet their performance objectives, but it also challenges and goes beyond existing government guidance in ways that can significantly improve work with both the victims and perpetrators of child abuse.

    This should become a 'must have' resource that can help police officers and social workers start right away to make real progress and improvements in their work.

    A4 wirobound. 192 pages. 978-1-905541-33-1. Published 2008. £59.95.


    Trainers who are very experienced and skilled child protection practitioners from both police and children's services. It is to be used in training only with police and social workers who have attended the joint investigation course.



    About the authors
    About this manual and the training course
    Photocopying permission for the handouts
    Electronic supply of the handouts
    Introduction and overview
    Day 1: Achieving best evidence interviews: the context

    Learning objectives
    Pre-course information
    Training environment
    Introductory exercise: true or false
    Getting it right, addressing anxieties about conducting a recorded interview of a child
    The child centred interview
    The use of a video recorded interview in court
    The role of the Crown Prosecution Service
    To interview or not?
    When is it appropriate to conduct an ABE interview?
    The use of special measures
    Understanding when to apply special measures
    The video interview within the investigation process
    Day 2: The Phases of the interview
    The phased interview approach
    The introduction phase
    Practising the phased interview approach - introduction
    The rapport phase
    Practising the phased interview approach - rapport
    Bridging between rapport and free narrative phases: the ground rules
    The free narrative phase
    Practising the phased interview approach - free narrative
    Making use of drawing during the interview
    Use of anatomically correct dolls
    Memory game
    The questioning phase
    Practising the phased interview approach - questioning - open and closed questions
    Practising the phased interview approach - questioning - developing skills
    Assessing the validity of a child's statement
    Responding to difficult questions
    Practising responding to difficult questions
    Practising the phased interview approach - questioning - additional practice
    Practising the phased interview approach - questioning - responding to sexually explicit language
    The closure phase
    Practising the phased interview approach - closure
    Day 3: Interview Preparation and Planning
    Interviewing disabled children
    Age appropriate responses: the child's concept of time
    Considering age appropriate language
    Preparation and planning for the interview
    Preparation and planning
    Day 4: Practising through role plays
    Video-recorded role plays
    Day 5: Reflection on the interview practice
    Learning from the role plays
    The security of the video recording
    Review of 'Getting it right' activity
    Group work: messages
    Resources for work with young people
    Appendix 1: National Occupational Standards (NOS) for police work
    Appendix 2: National Occupational Standards for social work
    Appendix 3: Relevant academic standards
    Appendix 4: BSc module handbook
    Appendix 5: MSc module handbook
    Electronic supply of the handouts from Investigative Interviewing of Children: Achieving Best Evidence.


    Liz Davies
    is a senior lecturer at London Metropolitan University. She has many years' experience as a social worker and child protection manager and trainer. She is widely published, and regularly works with the media on child protection issues.

    Debbie Townsend is a former Metropolitan Police detective specialising in child abuse investigation and also a child protection trainer. She now works as a consultant designing and delivering child protection courses. Together, they deliver the post qualifying training in joint investigation and investigative interviewing skills to social workers and police at London Metropolitan University.

    TERMS AND CONDITIONS for use of the handouts from Investigative Interviewing of Children: Achieving Best Evidence
    1. Buying a copy of Joint Investigation in Child Protection and completing the form at the back of the book gives the individual who signs the form permission to use the materials in the PDF that will be sent from RHP for their own use only.
    2. The hard copies that they then print from the PDF are subject to the same permissions and restrictions that are set out in the 'photocopying permission' section at the front of this book.
    3. Under no circumstances should they forward or copy the electronic materials to anyone else.
    4. If the person who signs the form wants a licence to be granted for wider use of the electronic materials within their organisation, network or client base, they must make a request directly to RHP fully detailing the proposed use. All requests will be reviewed on their own merits.
    a. If the request is made when submitting the form to RHP, the request should be made in writing and should accompany the form.
    b. If the request is made later, it should be made in an email sent to, and should not only fully detail the proposed use, but also give the details of the person whose name and contact details were on the original application form.

    RHP and the author expect this honour system to be followed respectfully, by individuals and organisations whom we in turn respect. RHP will act to protect authors' copyright if they become aware of it being infringed.

    Please note
    RHP reserves the right to withdraw this offer at any time without prior notice.
    RHP reserves the right to qualify or reject any application which it is not completely satisfied is on an original torn-out page from the back of a purchased book.


    British Journal of Social Work
    Review for both Investigative Interviewing of Children: Achieving Best Evidence and Joint Investigation in Child Protection.

    'The authors of these two training manual - highly experienced social work and police service professionals, respectively - put their cards firmly on the table in the comprehensive historical perspective at the start of each pack. These texts have an entirely different process from the assessment of children in need and a necessary dual focus on both the risks presented by a perpetrator and the needs of child and family. These two closely linked training manuals are intended to... enhance the working together in child protection skills of a wide range of professionals, who come together across the constituent statutory and voluntary agencies of the local safeguarding children boards in section 47 referrals and investigations.

    'Joint Investigation in Child Protection offers experienced trainers a comprehensive and well-researched skills and knowledge base... The material is varied and up to date, using tried and tested adult learning methods to inform and challenge in a secure environment. It is ingenious in its scope and its relevance to a wide range of professionals including those in health and education, probation, housing, and the voluntary sector. Issues of ethnicity, culture, religion and language are addressed. It also deals with the important area of... 'professional dangerousness'... trainers will need to spend some time familiarising themselves with the detailed presentations and activities; there are tips on delivery and clear guidance on the protocol for photocopying handouts from the manual.

    'Investigative Interviewing of Children: Achieving Best Evidence builds on its partner manual, using many similar methods but taking the social worker and police officer investigators on to detailed consideration of the context, process, skills and dilemmas involved in Achieving Best Evidence (ABE) interviews. Through its twenty presentations and twenty-three activities, it is consistently child-centred, includes children with disabilities and children from a range of ethnic, cultural, religious and linguistic backgrounds. It clearly aims to build confidence in those working directly with children in highly sensitive and anxiety-provoking situations and also confidence and trust in the joint working relationship that brings together professionals from two very different work cultures. All stages of the ABE interview are closely examined in a range of scenarios, together with guidance.

    'Both manuals are very reasonably priced, with the first kept deliberately lower than the second, in the hope that even small organisations could afford it. Let us hope that the time is ripe, in the wake of the baby P. case, for serious reflection on the training needs of those working in child protection and more commissioning of this type, quality and length of training.' British Journal of Social Work.