||This article may contain original research. (November 2008)|
The Reid technique is a method of questioning subjects and assessing their credibility. The technique consists of a non-accusatory interview combining both investigative and behavior-provoking questions. If the investigative information indicates that the subject committed the crime in question, the Reid Nine Steps of Interrogation are utilized to persuade the subject to tell the truth about what they did.
The Reid technique involves three different components — factual analysis, interviewing, and interrogation. While each of these are separate and distinct procedures, they are interrelated in the sense that each is intended to serve to help eliminate innocent suspects during an investigation, thereby presumably allowing the investigator to focus upon the person that the investigator feels is most likely to be guilty. Interrogating that individual then becomes foremost in the effort to learn what may be the truth. Supporters argue the Reid technique is useful in extracting information from otherwise unwilling suspects, while critics have charged the technique can elicit false confessions from innocent persons, especially children.
The term "Reid Technique" is a registered trademark of the firm John E. Reid and Associates, which offers training courses in the method they have devised. The technique is widely used by law-enforcement agencies in North America
Factual Analysis 
Both an interview as well as an interrogation are facilitated by analysis of investigative findings. Proper factual analysis assists the investigator in the following ways:
- Eliminate improbable suspects
- Develop possible suspects or leads
- Increase the investigators' mental confidence in identifying truthful or guilty suspects through the interview process
- Identify proper interrogation strategies
Behavior Analysis Interview 
The word "interview" refers to an ideally non-accusatory question and answer session with a witness, victim or a suspect. In addition to standard investigative questions, controversial structured "behavior provoking" questions are asked to elicit behavior symptoms from the person being interviewed which indicate either truth or deception. This structured procedure is referred to as a Behavior Analysis Interview (or BAI).
"Interrogation," on the other hand, is an accusatory process — accusatory only in the sense that the investigator tells the suspect that there is no doubt as to his guilt. The interrogation is in the form of a monologue presented by the investigator, rather than a question and answer format.
The actual demeanor of the investigator during the course of an interrogation is ideally understanding, patient, and non-demeaning. His or her goal is to make the suspect progressively more and more comfortable with acknowledging the presumed truth about what they are alleged to have done. This is accomplished by the investigators' first imagining and then offering the subject various psychological constructs as justification for their behavior.
The first admission of guilt is usually obtained by asking the alternative question "Did you plan this out or did it just happen on the spur of the moment?" This technique uses language that contains the unspoken, implicit assumption of guilt. A famous version of this trick is, "Ma'am, have you stopped embezzling money from the bank yet?" The person under interrogation must catch the hidden assumption and contest it to avoid the trap. Otherwise, once the subject confesses to the proposed scenario, then active persuasion stops and the interrogator attempts to develop from the subject corroborating information that can be used to shore up the credibility of the confession. Critics regard this strategy as hazardous, arguing that it is subject to confirmation bias (likely to reinforce inaccurate beliefs or assumptions) and may lead to prematurely narrowing an investigation.
Nine steps of interrogation 
The Reid technique's nine steps of interrogation are:
- Step 1 - Direct Confrontation. Lead the suspect to understand that the evidence has led the police to the individual as a suspect. Offer the person an early opportunity to explain why the offense took place.
- Step 2 - Try to shift the blame away from the suspect to some other person or set of circumstances that prompted the suspect to commit the crime. That is, develop themes containing reasons that will justify or excuse the crime. Themes may be developed or changed to find one to which the accused is most responsive.
- Step 3 - Try to discourage the suspect from denying his guilt. Reid training video: "If you’ve let him talk and say the words ‘I didn’t do it’[...]the more difficult it is to get a confession."
- Step 4 - At this point, the accused will often give a reason why he or she did not or could not commit the crime. Try to use this to move towards the confession.
- Step 5 - Reinforce sincerity to ensure that the suspect is receptive.
- Step 6 - The suspect will become quieter and listen. Move the theme discussion towards offering alternatives. If the suspect cries at this point, infer guilt.
- Step 7 - Pose the “alternative question”, giving two choices for what happened; one more socially acceptable than the other. The suspect is expected to choose the easier option but whichever alternative the suspect chooses, guilt is admitted. There is always a third option which is to maintain that they did not commit the crime.
- Step 8 - Lead the suspect to repeat the admission of guilt in front of witnesses and develop corroborating information to establish the validity of the confession.
- Step 9 - Document the suspect's admission or confession and have him or her prepare a recorded statement (audio, video or written).
Critics of the technique claim it too easily produces false confessions, especially with children. The use of the Reid technique on youth is prohibited in several European countries because of the incidence of false confessions and wrongful convictions that result.
In Canada, a Provincial Court Judge ruled in 2012 that "stripped to its bare essentials, the Reid Technique is a guilt-presumptive, confrontational, psychologically manipulative procedure whose purpose is to extract a confession." John E. Reid and Associates maintains that "it’s not the technique that causes false or coerced confessions but police detectives who apply improper interrogation procedures."
- Zulawski, David E.; Wicklander, Douglas E. (2001). Practical Aspects of Interview and Interrogation. Ann Arbor: CRC Press. ISBN 978-0-8493-0101-8.
- Kassin, S. M.; Appleby, S. C.; Perillo, J. T. (February 2010). "Interviewing suspects: Practice, science, and future directions". Legal and Criminological Psychology 15: 39–55. doi:10.1348/135532509X449361. (preprint)
- Drizin, S. A.; Leo, R. A. (2004). "The problem of false confessions in the post-DNA world". North Carolina Law Review 82: 891–1007. (preprint)
- Beck, Susan (March 2009). "Saving Anthony Harris". The American Lawyer XXXI (3): 76.
- Vrij, A (1998). "Interviewing Suspects". In Memon, A.; Vrij, A; Bull, R. Psychology and Law: Truthfulness, Accuracy and Credibility. Maidenhead, UK: McGraw-Hill. pp. 124–144.
- Quan, Douglas (September 10, 2012). "Judge’s ruling finds widely used police interrogation technique ‘oppressive’". Canada.com.