Forensic Interviewing Skills

Phil Ackland’s Forensic Interviewing Course is designed to assist Fire Inspectors achieve the best results in gathering witness statements, including those from alleged perpetrators.

Course Description

Gain the skills necessary to effectively gather witness statements, including those from alleged perpetrators.  Learn ways to ensure that forensic interviews are admissible by gathering reliable, sufficient and relevant information. In addition explore ways to meet the rights of all involved. We focus on  realistic professional issues. Inspectors are taught effective ways to act as witnesses at trial.

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Course Goals

Participants will understand what the legal parameters are for interviewing and interrogating witnesses and alleged suspects. Strategies for writing clear documentation and reports as well as ensuring that evidence is admissible to tribunals or to courts, will be explored. Ways of requesting documentation and other evidence is reviewed, as are ways to ensure that evidence is secure; along with maintaining a legal chain of custody. Students will learn and practice the most effective interviewing and interrogation techniques, along with how to avoid common mistakes. Participants will know how to act as witnesses themselves in cases where they are called to testify. Professional  issues are discovered as well.

 Course Curriculum

Day One – In Class


  • Participants’ Introductions
  • Course Outline, Agenda & Objectives
  • Evidence Law

An Introduction to Effective Communication Skills

  • Lecture
  • Group Activity

Best Practices in Conducting Forensic Investigation

  • General Overview
  • 10 Principles of Excellence in Practice
  • Administrative Fairness
  • Physical Evidence – Intro
  • Continuity – Chain of Custody–Intro
  • What to Look for in a Good Report

Anticipate and Overcome Common Challenges

  • Identifying Common Challenges
  • Case Assessment  – A Template
  • Investigation Planning
  • Expanded Concerns (“Issue Creep”)
  • Flexibility of the Inspector
  • Interviewing Witnesses
  • Categories of Interviews
  • Two Phases of Interviewing
  • Who Should be Interviewed?

Day Two – In Class

Principles of Interviewing

How to Identify Altered Records


Assessing the Evidence

  • Admissibility
  • Sufficiency
  • Relevance
  • Reliability

Conducting Forensic Interviews

Common Mistakes

Case Studies & Reporting Back to Class–Begin

Case Studies & Reporting Back to Class–Finish

  • Tips From the Experts: “How to Do the Work”
  • Testimony – Acting as a Witness
  • Professional Issues

Course Evaluation


Questions? Contact Ackland and Sander Consulting toll-free at 1.888.537.4878

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