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University lecturer develops new interview tool to help tackle crime

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Published on 24 June 2021

Dr Laura Farrugia
Dr Laura Farrugia

The Forensic Interview Trace (FIT)© is a secure computer programme designed to record the structure, content and characteristics of a forensic interview, involving victims, witnesses, suspects and persons of interest.

Dr Laura Farrugia is lead researcher of the project.

She said: “Grounded within psychological concepts such as memory, information retrieval and interpersonal communication and rapport-building, the tool is being developed to address some of the challenges associated with understanding human behaviour within the interview process, with a particular focus on interviewer and interviewee behaviour.

“As such, the tool will be of benefit for all police services in England and Wales, but also those on an international level.”

Given the recent cuts to funding and the impact this has had on training opportunities, police officers will be able to use the FIT© to enhance their investigational skills and develop behavioural capability and information advantage.

The FIT© will also benefit security agencies and any organisation that conducts their own in-house investigations, such as corporate organisations.

Dr Farrugia, who is a Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader for BSc Forensic Psychology at the University of Sunderland, added: “Investing in IT and technological capabilities is part of the Government’s ongoing Technology Innovation Strategy and is a priority for defence and security capabilities.

“Furthermore, given the type of complex investigation that UK police services and security agencies are involved in, there is a real need to develop behavioural capability and information advantage when conducting interviews with persons of interest involved in ongoing investigations.”