Below is a brief overview of the JII process.  The documentation for the National Guidance on Joint Investigative Interviewing of Child Witnesses in Scotland is available.

Purpose of joint investigative interview (JII)

An investigative Interview is a “formal planned interview with a child, carried out by staff trained and competent to conduct it…” Guidance on interviewing Child Witnesses in Scotland, Scottish Government 2011.

The decision to undertake a JII of a child witness will be taken by the core agencies during the Inter-Agency Referral Discussion (IRD). Time-sensitive forensic pressures may require immediate action; however any such action must always be preceded by discussion between relevant partner agencies.  A full IRD must be undertaken as soon as practicable.

The main purposes of the Investigative Interview are to -

  • Learn the child’s account of the circumstances prompting the enquiry
  • Gather information to permit decision-making on whether the child in question or any other child is in need of protection
  • Gather sufficient evidence to suggest whether a crime has been committed against the child or anyone else
  • Gather evidence that may lead to a ground of referral to the Children’s Hearing being established
  • Ensure an appropriate support plan can be developed to meet the child’s needs

Interviews should always be tailored to the needs of the child and the circumstances leading to the investigation. Interviews will only take place within the context of an overall child protection process, with the exception of requests from the Procurator Fiscal or where an interview is required for evidential purposes only.

Scottish child interview model (SCIM)

Scottish Child Interview Model is a new approach to joint investigative interviewing which is trauma informed, maintaining the focus upon the needs of the child in the interview and minimising the risk of further traumatisation, whilst seeking to achieve to best evidence through improved planning and interview techniques.


Where a decision is taken during an inter-agency referral discussion on the need for an Investigative Interview, police and social work managers will -

  • Identify interviewers to carry out the joint investigative interview.
  • Ensure, within the planning of the joint investigative interview, the availability of recording equipment either at a fixed site or utilising mobile recording equipment.
  • Provide the child or young person with the opportunity to specify the gender of the lead interviewer in advance of the joint interview taking place in compliance with the Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2014
  • Agree the arrangements for the interview (time/date, location, additional support needs of the child e.g., an interpreter, and parameters)
  • Children/young people require to have a full understanding of the JII process in order that they can be supported to engage and participate in the interview. This is the responsibility of the allocated Social Worker / duty Social Worker.
  • Ensure the interviewers are briefed, with all the detailed information gathered from relevant agencies to that point to enable them to develop the interview plan, including any additional needs of the child. This will include the development of a written interview plan
  • Ensure that the interviewers are given the opportunity to prepare their investigative interview
  • Confirm arrangements for the debriefing of interviewers to explore fully and access the information elicited during the interview
  • Ensure that a detailed record of all stages is completed, including all decisions made, who was involved in making them and reasons for these decisions. Copies of this record must be kept by police and social work

Brief / debrief

Briefing and debriefing of interviewers are essential parts of the planning process for an investigative interview and are conducted by a supervising officer from either the social work service or police.

Once the interview and an agreed joint record of its proceedings have been completed, a debriefing session will take place between the interviewers and the managers of social work and/or police overseeing the investigation.

The debriefing session will be documented and both agencies will keep records identifying decisions made, by whom and the reasons for them.

Although the findings from the interview will be discussed during debriefing, any further action will be taken forward by each agency. The social work manager and/or police supervisor conducting the debriefing session will feed back the findings of the interview to each agency, to ensure that information contributes to the child protection investigation process. Police Scotland will progress any suspected criminality.

A joint discussion will take place with all relevant agencies to review all available information and consider the need for any further action e.g., the arrangement of a medical examination or a further interview.


A visual recording of a joint interview provides a far superior record of an interview than ‘verbatim ‘written record. All joint investigative interviews therefore must be visually recorded, unless there are specific reasons why this may be inappropriate, e.g., the alleged offence involved video recording or photography of the child/young person.

The visual recording includes all the pauses, body language and demeanour of the child, the interviewers, and any support person present. As well as the information provided by the child that may be of evidential value, the visual recording will also give a clear impression of how evidence was obtained.

As there is a visual recording of the joint interview, the second interviewer is no longer required to take a verbatim record of the interview. However, the second interviewer will take written notes, recording salient points and details. This will be required to inform the assessment of the child witness, the level of concern and whether any action needs to be taken.

During any journey to the interview, any conversation about the case should be avoided. However, if the child raises issues material to the case, or its circumstances, the conversation should be re-directed to neutral topics.

A comprehensive written record of the conversation during the journey must be made at the earliest opportunity. In addition, this information must be referred to in the recording of the interview. At the conclusion of the interview, both practitioners will agree the written notes/record taken during the interview.

Procurator fiscal

When the PF requests a JII an Initial Referral Discussion should be considered when a child or young person has witnessed a suspected crime and where they are assessed as being at risk of significant harm.

Witness JIIs

Where the JII is required only for evidential purposes and the threshold of significant harm is not met, this can be progressed without any further child protection investigation being initiated.  The JII team manager will assess the complexity of the case and consider if the child has needs that would require additional support. Where no protection or welfare concerns are evident and the threshold for an IRD is unmet, a referral from the PF can be progressed without the need for an IRD.