This week’s International Association of Interviewers interview and interrogation training tip provided by Wicklander-Zulawski, has Dave Thompson, CFI, vice president of operations for WZ, talking about why victims often don’t feel comfortable reporting a crime or an allegation against a suspect.
The types of cases where we typically see the fear of victim reporting can range from sexual harassment, bullying or workplace violence, discrimination, or a hostile work environment.
It’s frightening to think about the number of incidents that go unreported. Often, incidents go unreported simply because of the way the interview could be conducted. Often, unknowingly, when we conduct an interview with a victim or a witness, questions or comments made by the interviewer might put potential blame on the victim.
When a victim walks away from that kind of conversation feeling like the incident was their fault, the interviewer should realize that their approach to the interview was morally unethical. That result is also going to prevent further victims, or even that victim, coming forward again in the future.
Another reason that victims often don’t report is what we call the bystander effect. If you work in a large organization, or if multiple people are aware of an event or incident, everyone often thinks that someone else is going to report it. They imagine: “If I work in a building with 500 people, surely somebody else will say something. It doesn’t have to be me.”
With those types of situations, it’s important that we have a variety of ways for people to easily report incidents and feel comfortable doing so—whether that’s an anonymous tip line or an open-door policy with someone they’d feel comfortable talking to.
Another reason victims don’t report incidents is embarrassment. Even though what happened was not their fault, that doesn’t mean the victim’s embarrassment is gone. Whatever happened did still happen, and they might be embarrassed to share that information. They might be embarrassed on a personal level over what their family or friends could discover. They also might be embarrassed professionally or have a fear about how the incident might affect their potential growth within an organization.
When you look back at your organization, and you’re investigating these types of claims, I would challenge you to think about what other incidents are occurring that we don’t know about. What can we do as an organization to make it easier for people to report these incidents—so we can do a thorough investigation, without causing victim blaming, fear of retaliation, or embarrassment.
This is a difficult task, but it’s essential not only to the welfare of individual people, but also to the success of the organization.
Every loss prevention investigator should strive to enhance their investigative interviewing skills as part of an ongoing commitment to best-in-class interviewing performance. This includes holding ourselves to an elite standard of interview and interrogation training that is ethical, moral and legal while demanding excellence in the pursuit of the truth. The International Association of Interviewers (IAI) and Wicklander-Zulawski (WZ) provide interview and interrogation training programs and additional guidance to investigators when dealing with dishonest employees, employee theft, sexual harassment, policy violations, building rapport, pre-employment interviewing, lying, denials and obtaining a statement.
By focusing on the latest information and research from experts in the field as well as academia, legal and psychological resources, these video tips provide interview and interrogation training techniques that can enhance the skill sets of professionals with backgrounds in law enforcement, loss prevention, security, asset protection, human resources, auditors, or anyone looking to obtain the truth.
This post was originally published in 2018 and was updated February 18, 2019.