Outside the interrogation room: the context of confession in sexual crimes

Eric Beauregard (School of Criminology, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada)
Tom Mieczkowski (Department of Criminology, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida, USA)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Publication date: 31 May 2011



The purpose of this study is to identify factors in sex offenders that act to facilitate or inhibit confession to police. Moreover, it aims to assess possible interactions and differences among factors related to confession specifically for child molesters and those who attack adult victims (rapists).


The authors use a combination of CHAID and conjunctive analysis to analyze interactions and factors significantly associated with confession to police in a sample of 624 sex offenders.


The study identifies several factors, as well as interactions among those factors, related to confession to the police. Moreover, rapists and child molesters present different factors related to confession, the former being more related to the criminal event as to the latter being more related to the offender characteristics.

Practical implications

The findings point to the conclusion that investigators need to pay careful attention to the type of victim when preparing the interrogation. Moreover, these crime event characteristics are readily observable factors that can improve the estimation of the likelihood of obtaining a confession. Finally, the several interactions identified confirm the complexity of the decision making leading to confession to police as well as the need to look at the factors in combination as opposed to individually.


This paper is the first attempt to apply a combination of innovative multivariate statistics (CHAID) and a qualitative technique (conjunctive analysis) to investigate factors leading to confession for two specific types of sex offenders.



Beauregard, E. and Mieczkowski, T. (2011), "Outside the interrogation room: the context of confession in sexual crimes", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 34 No. 2, pp. 246-264. https://doi.org/10.1108/13639511111131076

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