Workplace Investigations

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Workplace Investigations

https://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/people/aoibhinn-n%C3%AD-sh%C3%BAilleabh%C3%A1in-two-years-of-harassment-at-ucd-1.4346015

In the wake of Doctor Ní Shúilleabháin speaking out about her experience of workplace sexual harassment, the Minister for Higher Education, Simon Harris, has promised a zero-tolerance approach to tackle the issue in third level institutions.

An approach to tackling sexual harassment in third level institutions or any workplace will include a process for robust, effective investigations.

Workplace investigations involving allegations of sexual misconduct or sexual harassment can be challenging for the institutions to tackle, particularly if what is alleged may also constitute a criminal offence. However, this should not be a reason not to conduct an internal investigation or to delay its initiation. If the Gardaí are investigating the alleged misconduct under criminal law, it is still possible to progress a workplace investigation while remaining cognisant of the paramountcy and integrity of the criminal investigation.

There are many reasons why the criminal complaint path might not progress, including:

  • The Complainant may not wish to make a criminal complaint
  • The alleged behaviour may not yet have intensified into criminal acts.
  • Insufficient evidence to meet the criminal standard of proof (workplace investigations threshold is the ‘balance of probabilities’).
  • The inevitable lapse of time between the initial inception of criminal complaint and its final conclusion.

Complainants making allegations of sexual harassment should be entitled to less onerous, less public alternative to the criminal process if that is what she/he chooses.

An effective, timely workplace investigation is a key element of any prevention strategy. They are effective in addressing the cultural and environmental contributors to sexual harassment and in improving reporting rates.

The risks associated with poor (or non-existent) investigations are significant and can compromise the well-being of individuals as well as expose organisations to significant financial, legal and reputational damage.

Adherence to fair procedures and the principles of natural justice is essential during any workplace investigation. The Employment Equality Act 1998 (Code of Practice) (Harassment) Order 2012 recommends that, in order to ensure impartiality, objectivity and fairness, the appointment of an external investigator may be necessary.

Regardless of whether the investigator is internal or external, the competency and training of the investigator is crucial. The role of the investigator is to gather and validate all relevant information, including information that substantiates the allegations and information that rebuts the allegations.

“I received one phone call from an external investigator”. “I was expecting great things from this formal complaint because it had been bigged up to me that it was going to be a very arduous process,” (Doctor Ní Shúilleabháin referring to her formal complaint to the HR Department).

In order to gather accurate, reliable information, interviews need to be conducted with the complainant, the alleged perpetrator and other relevant witnesses. Many investigative outcomes will be determined by the credibility or otherwise of the parties or witnesses. A core function of the investigator is to assess and corroborate the accounts provided and to address any inconsistencies or discrepancies. High level forensic interviewing skills are essential.

Any attempt to undermine a case or any external scrutiny will focus on the fairness of the process to all parties. It is crucial that investigations be conducted professionally, independently, transparently and that fair procedures are followed.

Good investigation practices will lead to legally defensible outcomes, regardless of what the investigation uncovers. Good investigation practice will not be achieved without the deployment of skilled, experienced, appropriately trained investigators.

A core role of the investigator during the investigation will be to conduct investigation meetings with your staff – the person reporting the allegation, witnesses to alleged events, and the person responding to the allegation. The conduct of these meetings is key to the way those persons involved in the investigation process (your employees/charges) perceive the fairness and transparency of the investigation process. Establish what training and experience the investigators have in conducting empathetic, open-minded cognitive interviewing type meetings.

Conference: Regulatory, Compliance and Fact-Finding Investigations: Best Practice, Common Challenges and Future Direction

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Conference: Regulatory, Compliance and Fact-Finding Investigations: Best Practice, Common Challenges and Future Direction

24th October 2019

We at Forensic Investigation & Training Solutions Ltd were delighted to host this Conference in association with The School of Law, University of Limerick at the A&L Goodbody Appellate Court, University of Limerick.

There was a great turnout with over 50 public and private sector bodies represented. Delegates included public sector investigators and managers, Financial Sector Professionals, Legal Professionals, Child Protection Professionals, Auditors, Insurance Sector, HR Managers, Students of law, criminology and psychology.

The Conference presented fundamental advances and best practice in the field of investigations, fact-finding enquiries and work-place meetings. It also served as a platform to foster networks among practitioners, researchers and experts working in a broad variety of investigations, compliance and integrity roles and with a common interest in improving investigative practices and exchanging/exploring ideas and enabling collegiality. Read More

The Price of Poor Investigations vs the Cost of Effective Training

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The Price of Poor Investigations vs the Cost of Effective Training

Compliance, regulation and ethics strategies are primarily focused on prevention, which goes hand in hand with detection. Effective, timely investigations are a key element of prevention and are essential to detection.

A well conducted investigations will:

  • Identify weak or flawed systems
  • Minimise risk
  • Protect the organisation’s image/reputation
  • Enable steps to eliminate opportunities for wrongdoing
  • Enable recovery of assets
  • Support criminal or civil proceedings

An investigation involves a systematic and robust examination of relevant incidents or actions aimed at gathering, validating and retaining information that will help to establish facts and support decision-making. It usually culminates in a Report. Read More

What is Investigative Interviewing?

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What is Investigative Interviewing?

Investigative interviews with witnesses and respondents to allegations are a key strategy in any investigation. A well-conducted investigative interview offers investigators the best chance of advancing the investigation. Recognising investigative interviewing as a core skill for investigators/intelligence gatherers is paramount for a successful outcome to an investigation. However, the concept of investigative interviewing is poorly understood and its value as an investigative strategy is undervalued, underestimated, and often, poorly applied. Read More

The Match was manipulated but no player or official is guilty of Match Manipulation: Expert Reports and Investigations

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The Match was manipulated but no player or official is guilty of Match Manipulation: Expert Reports and Investigations

Author – Brendan Considine

https://www.irishexaminer.com/sport/soccer/arid-40017809.html

“CAS upheld the Association’s original findings of manipulation around the Longford Town v Athlone Town fixture. “The FAI remains committed to the fight against match fixing,”.

So, the match was manipulated but no player or official is guilty of match manipulation.

Of course, it is a fair outcome and the only decision open to the esteemed members of the panel of Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) considering the evidence they were presented with.

Leaving aside this specific case, it can only be considered a spectacular own-goal if a respondent’s ‘expert report’ is used to support the appellant’s appeal. Effective, thorough, fair investigations are an important element in any prevention strategy. A weak or flawed investigation sets prevention back and allows for apologists and deniers of corruption in sport. Read More

Gardai Failing to Pursue Scammers

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Gardai Failing to Pursue Scammers

https://www.independent.ie/business/personal-finance/insurers-claim-garda-failing-to-pursue-scammers-37318798.html

Mr Kevin Thompson of Insurance Ireland reports that its members handed over 167 files on fraudulent cases to the Gardai in 2016 for prosecution.  Claiming that the cases were “resting” with Gardai, with no indication if prosecutions have, or will be taken, he expressed his frustration at the “dysfunctionality of our personal injuries and legal framework in assessing these claims and bringing prosecutions”.

Peter Boland, of the Alliance for Insurance Reform, said businesses are besieged by fraudulent claims. The insurance industry in Ireland suffers a €20 million loss due to fraud each year.

There are numerous reasons why Gardai do not bring prosecutions and, similar to the DPP, they are unlikely to reveal these reasons.

When in-house investigations can lead to criminal sanctions it is important that the early steps in the investigation are conducted to a minimum standard. As with all investigations into potential wrongdoing, actions taken during the ‘golden hour’ (the period immediately following the incident) are crucial to successful outcomes. After this, the opportunities for identifying information and material evidence diminish significantly. The first chance to gather information and evidence about the incident may be the last. In addition, identification and collection of evidence requires rigorous quality assurance measures if it is to withstand the test of criminal or civil processes. It may never be identified or harvested; it may become contaminated or comprised from the outset. Awareness is required of these issues in every step of the process: from the employee in a business to whom the incident is first reported, through to the manager to whom they report, all the way to the report being passed to a professional investigator and onwards for civil or criminal determination.

In this context it is important that the insurance industry is doing everything possible to ensure that their Zero Tolerance policy is supported by robust mechanisms.

It is imperative that employees in small and medium enterprises are aware of the risks and measures. It is also imperative that investigators within the insurance industry have the capacity to identify, gather and manage evidence and conduct standardised, consistent investigations that will not compromise the integrity of a potential criminal prosecution.

Investigators need training in investigative principles and recent best practice thus ensuring a common practice and approach across the industry that is aligned to the standards and practices recognised and accepted within the Criminal Justice System.

A culture is required where criminal justice institutions and non criminal justice fact finders have mutual respect for each other and a collaborative approach to enhancing the quality of the criminal process. This is only possible with an awareness of minimum common standards, transfer of knowledge and capacity development.

Many in-house investigations will be initiated before criminal activity is suspected and, in some cases, will be alternative to criminal investigations. A clearly defined investigative process is at the heart of any compliance programme. In addition, an increased awareness of the investigation process and principles will enhance the in-house capacity of insurance companies to conduct investigations that confirm or repudiate claims and enable more robust defence of civil claims.  This requires a commitment to awareness, skill-based training and standard operating procedures.

Why Tough Tactics Fail and Rapport Gets Results: Observing Rapport-Based Interpersonal Techniques (ORBIT) to generate useful information from terrorists.

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Why Tough Tactics Fail and Rapport Gets Results: Observing Rapport-Based Interpersonal Techniques (ORBIT) to generate useful information from terrorists

By Alison, Laurence J., Alison, Emily, Noone, Geraldine, Elntib, Stamatis, Christiansen, Paul

Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, Vol 19(4), Nov 2013, 411-431

Abstract

This field observation examines 58 police interrogators’ rapport-based behaviours with terrorist suspects; specifically, whether rapport helps elicit meaningful intelligence and information. The Observing Rapport-Based Interpersonal Techniques (ORBIT; Alison, Alison, Elntib & Noone, 2012) is a coding framework with 3 elements. The first 2 measures are as follows: (i) 5 strategies adopted from the motivational interviewing (Miller & Rollnick, 2009) literature in the counselling domain: autonomy, acceptance, adaptation, empathy, and evocation and (ii) an “Interpersonal Behaviour Circle” (adopted from Interpersonal theories, Leary, 1957) for coding interpersonal interactions between interrogator and suspect along 2 orthogonal dimensions (authoritative-passive and challenging-cooperative); where each quadrant has an interpersonally adaptive and maladaptive variant. The third (outcome) measure of ORBIT includes a measure of evidentially useful information (the “interview yield”) and considers the extent to which suspects reveal information pertaining to capability, opportunity and motive as well as evidence relevant to people, actions, locations and times. Data included 418 video interviews (representing 288 hours of footage), with all suspects subsequently convicted for a variety of terrorist offences. Structural equation modeling revealed that motivational interviewing was positively associated with adaptive interpersonal behaviour from the suspect, which, in turn, increased interview yield. Conversely, even minimal expression of maladaptive interpersonal interrogator behaviour increased maladaptive interviewee behaviour as well as directly reducing yield. The study provides the first well-defined and empirically validated analysis of the benefits of a rapport-based, interpersonally skilled approach to interviewing terrorists in an operational field setting. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)

The Efficacy of Rapport-Based Techniques for Minimising Counter-Interrogation Tactics Amongst a Field Sample of Terrorists.

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The Efficacy of Rapport-Based Techniques for Minimising Counter-Interrogation Tactics Amongst a Field Sample of Terrorists.

By Alison, Laurence,Alison, Emily,Noone, Geraldine,Elntib, Stamatis,Waring, Sara,Christiansen, Paul

Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, Vol 20(4), Nov 2014, 421-430

Abstract

The impact of rapport-based interview techniques on suspect use of counter-interrogation tactics (CITs) was examined in an operational field sample of 181 police interrogations with international (Al-Qaeda and Al-Qaeda-inspired), paramilitary, and right-wing terrorists. The observing rapport-based interpersonal techniques (ORBIT) framework was used to code rapport-based interrogator skills along 2 dimensions: motivational interviewing skills and interpersonal competence (use of adaptive interviewing behaviors and absence of maladaptive interviewing behaviors). Two components of suspect behavior were measured using the ORBIT tool: interpersonal behavior and counter-interrogation techniques (passive, verbal, passive verbal, no-comment, and retraction). Structural equation modeling revealed that adaptive interviewing was directly associated with decreases in passive CITs but, counter to expectations, increased the prevalence of passive verbal responding. Interrogator use of motivational-interviewing-consistent skills was directly associated with improved adaptive interviewing; reduced maladaptive interviewing; and decreases in passive, verbal, and no-comment CITs, but was associated with higher rates of retraction. Motivational interviewing skills also had a significant indirect effect on reducing passive and increasing passive verbal CITs through its indirect effect on adaptive interviewing. Overall, findings indicate that adopting an adaptive rapport-based interrogation style in which suspects are treated with respect, dignity, and integrity is an effective approach for reducing suspects’ use of CITs. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved).

The scientists persuading terrorists to spill their secrets

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The scientists persuading terrorists to spill their secrets

This article introduces the innovative interview skills employed by Forensic Investigation and Training Solutions Ltd. Our lead trainer, Geraldine Noone was part of the team that worked with Drs Laurence and Emily Alison and helped to shape “the world’s first empirically grounded and comprehensive model of interrogation”. It “revolutionised the study and practice of interrogation”.

Read the full article on Guardian.com