Rapport Building Strategies in Police-Suspect Interaction in Ibadan, Nigeria

Temidayo Akinrinlola


Police-suspect interaction (PSI) thrives on discursive negotiation of intentions between investigating police officers (IPOs) and suspects. With regard to the Nigerian context, a plethora of studies have anchored the deployment of physical torture in extracting confessional statements from suspects. This study investigates rapport building strategies adopted by IPOs in seeking confessional statements from suspects during interrogation sessions. The study adopts Gumperz’s interactional sociolinguistic theory, considering its emphasis on how context-specific strategies are engaged in negotiating participants’ goals in discourse. Data for the study comprise interrogation sessions on conspiracy, robbery, kidnapping and forgery at the State Criminal Investigation Department, Ìyágankú, Ibadan, Nigeria. Findings reveal that topic change is adopted by IPOs to signal defection in a bid to glean confessional statements from suspects. IPOs also engage empathy, common interest and positive reinforcement to identify with suspects. This study concludes that rapport building in PSI is a function of power relations between IPOs and suspects.

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