‘Yes I understand’: Language Choice, Question Formation and Code-switching in Interpreter-mediated Police Interviews with Victim-survivors of Domestic Abuse

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This article presents the findings of the analysis of authentic interpreter-mediated police interviews with victim-survivors of domestic abuse with a focus on question formation and delivery, language choice and code-switching. It is set against the backdrop of the forces wide inspection of police response to domestic abuse in England and Wales (HMIC 2014) and implementation of EU Directive EU/2012/29 establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims. Drawing on conversation analysis and available police interview guidelines, I show how the voice of the victim-survivor can remain obscured even when professional language support provisions are in place, and shed light on interpreting practices that can limit an interviewing officer’s ability to assess risk. I suggest that, while it may not be appropriate for interpreters to be present for the duration of the pre-interview planning phase, it offers a dynamic forum for negotiating approaches to challenges in victim-survivor interviews.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1058-1076
JournalPolice Practice and Research
Issue number1
Early online date21 Sep 2019
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2021

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