Foundation Level

The Society of Forensic Interviewers – Theory of Ethical Investigative Interviewing  – ALP0053


The course has been designed to provide the information about the basic principals, theories, and research that underpin the methods used in ethical Investigative Interviewing.

It aims to provide a solid benchmark for civilian investigators across all sectors and offers improved accuracy and efficiency in the interview product. Whilst it is a foundation level, it should be relevant to the vast majority of investigations conducted by civilian investigators. It will provide supervisors, managers, senior managers and decision makers with the information they require to understand and support the work of investigators for whom they are responsible. Additionally, it is suitable as a refresher course for trained and experienced investigators.

Course participants who are aiming to obtain the SoFI Accredited Interviewer status will be fully prepared for the practical course unit, thus enabling the Accredited Training Practitioners to concentrate on teaching the application of practical interviewing skills.

This course has been written from the perspective of an investigator / interviewer based in the United Kingdom and being compliant with UK law. However, the principles drawn from this form the basis of an ethical interviewing technique that should be compatible with any judicial system throughout the world.

To reflect the international nature of the course, the examination questions regarding ‘Legal Issues’ are phrased in a generic manner, and are therefore relevant to all course participants.

Investigators who work for organisations that conduct suspect interviews under caution, and are subject to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) should follow local instructions and procedures. The PACE caution is included for information only and does not form part of the examination. The practical course unit can be tailored to meet specific organisational requirements regarding suspect interviews, and your selected Accredited Training Practitioner should be approached directly regarding this aspect.

The Society of Forensic Interviewers recommends that digital audio recording should be the default method of recording all witness and suspect interviews. However, module 3 , ‘Knowledge of Questioning Styles and Interviewer Behaviour’, includes a section on the NoteTaker system of note taking. This is a system being introduced to the UK police service and is used for preparing and evaluating the interview as well as for making notes during the interview. This section will not be included as part of the examination, and is included as an example of good practice.


The course is aimed at all civilian investigators, their managers and supervisors, worldwide, irrespective of previous training or experience. The course also works well as a refresher course for experienced/trained interviewers.


The course is only available as a distance learning programme through the SoFI website ( ).

Twelve months Associate membership of SoFI is included in the course cost and this provides each participant access to all required course materials, additional reading materials, dedicated student forums, and wider peer to peer forums and networking opportunities. There is no obligation to continue SoFI membership following completion of the course.

The course can be completed over the full twelve month period, however it is recommended that it be completed within six months for the sake of continuity.

Once the student feels ready, they may request to sit the on-line examination. Details of the assessment process can be found here Accreditation and Qualifications Assessment Policy copy V4 2.


On successfully completing the course participants will receive certification from SfJ Awards. The course has been mapped and found to be equivalent to a level 4/5 vocational qualification as part of the ALP application to SFJ Awards

They will also be eligible to upgrade their membership of SoFI to Accredited Member, and apply for the Practical Ethical Investigative Interviewing (Foundation Level) course which leads to SoFI Accredited Interviewer status.

See also the SoFI Accreditation Scheme

Course Overview

This unit is divided into five modules and should be studied in the following order:

  1. Principles of Ethical Investigative Interviewing
    • –  Principles of Ethical Investigative Interviewing
    • –  False Confessions
    • –  Confirmation Bias
    • –  Minimisation
    • –  Recording Interviews
  2. The Memory Process
    • –  Memory Process
    • –  Memory Contamination
  3. Knowledge of Questioning Styles and Interviewer Behaviour
    • –  Rapport Building
    • –  Mirroring
    • –  Conversation Rules
    • –  Active Listening
    • –  Question Types
    • –  Initiating a Free Narrative Account
    • –  Evidentially Important Questions
    • –  ADVOKATE
    • –  NoteTaker (Not included in the exam questions)


  1. Legal Issues
    • –  Confessions
    • –  Exclusion of Unfair Evidence
    • –  Oppression
    • –  Unreliability
    • –  Unfairness
    • –  Interview Records
    • –  Vulnerable People
    • –  Interviews
    • –  Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures
    • –  Cautions (Not included in the exam questions)
  2. The Interview Process
    • –  Interview Planning and Preparation
    • –  Dealing with the Interviewee
    • –  Obtaining the Account
    • –  Evaluation and De-Briefing

To obtain details of how to enrol on this course please contact

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