Heriot-Watt academic advises on criminal and intelligence interviewing

Professor Isabelle Perez, from the School of Management and Languages, was one of five international scholars involved in interpreter-mediated interviewing research and knowledge exchange that were invited to a workshop sponsored by the US government.

The workshop focused on 'Interpreters in Criminal and Intelligence Interviewing'. This invitation-only event took place in June 2013, in the Washington DC area, and was sponsored by the U.S. government's High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group (HIG).

Collection of intelligence

The HIG is an interagency body (FBI, CIA and U.S. Department of Defense) and its aim is to gather and apply the nation's best resources for the collection of intelligence from key terror suspects in order to prevent terrorist attacks against the United States and its allies.

Call for research into interrogation practices

Among the Presidential Task Force recommendations that led to the creation of the HIG, there was a call for a research programme focused on interrogation and intelligence interviewing practices. This led to a mandate in the HIG Charter to coordinate and sponsor research into lawful methods of interrogation that would strengthen U.S. interrogation practices, approaches and strategies.

The workshop included a small group of researchers and a small group of FBI operators (interrogators and interpreters/linguists) to discuss the state of knowledge in this area and identify research priorities with application to HIG-specific operational context.

Research proposals

On the basis of the future research programme thus defined, HIG representatives invited participants to put forward research proposals on interpreting to be considered for HIG funding in the coming years.