Mary Schollum is a criminologist with 26 years’ experience in policing and criminal justice generally. She has a master’s degree and PhD from the University of Cambridge, England. She is a New Zealander with dual citizenship – New Zealand and British – and has lived permanently in the UK since 2007.
Mary spent 17 years (1990–2007) with New Zealand Police in senior civilian positions covering project management, strategic planning, policy analysis and advice, research and evaluation, and business reviews. The work that brought her to the attention of FIS® – a 2 year review of Investigative Interviewing – is described below.
Having moved to the UK with her English-born husband in 2007, Mary spent 5 years working for the National Policing Improvement Agency as a professional practice developer. This role entailed developing ‘Authorised Professional Practice’ (ie, national policing guidance) on behalf of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) sponsors and the Home Office.
When the NPIA was disestablished in December 2012, Mary moved to the newly established College of Policing. From Feb 2013 to mid-2014, she was responsible for drafting the first Code of Ethics for policing in England & Wales. This involved considerable – and often difficult – consultation with every police force, all staff associations, and government oversight bodies. However, agreement was finally reached and the Code was laid before Parliament in July 2014 and has since been adopted by every force in E&W. See www.college.police.uk/en/20972.htm
From Oct to Dec 2014, Mary moved out of policing to take up a position with the Office of Victims’ Commissioner (Baroness Helen Newlove) in London. Mary’s primary task was to assess the compliance by 14 criminal justice agencies with their statutory requirement under the Victims’ Code 2013 to provide victims of crime with an effective complaints process.
Mary and a fellow assessor carried out all aspects of the project, including design and planning, fieldwork (ie, 48 interviews in just 18 working days) and analysis.
Since setting up her own consultancy company – Schollum Solutions Limited – in 2015, Mary has been engaged by various criminal justice agencies and organisations to carry out a range of policing or victim-related projects.
Specific Investigative Interviewing experience
In 2005, New Zealand Police appointed Mary to carry out a comprehensive review of investigative interviewing. She was given 2 years to complete the task, and was to:
(a) provide information that identified gaps in police policy, practice, training, technology, management, equipment and facilities;
(b) draw comparisons with international best practice; and
(c) make recommendations to ensure that the investigative interviewing of victims, witnesses and suspects in New Zealand met the highest professional standards.
Mary’s review resulted in 3 published reports:
- Investigative Interviewing: The Literature. Police National Headquarters, Wellington. Dec 2005. http://www.police.govt.nz/sites/default/files/publications/investigative-interviewing-literature-2005.pdf
- Investigative Interviewing: the Current Situation. Police National Headquarters, Wellington. Oct 2006. [available on request]
- Investigative Interviewing: the Recommendations. Police National Headquarters, Wellington. Nov 2006. http://www.police.govt.nz/sites/default/files/resources/other-reports/investigative-interviewing-the-recommendations.pdf
The literature review has received a great deal of international acclaim (particularly in the UK, Europe, Canada and Australia) and continues to feature in many academic articles and presentations, and to be required reading on numerous criminology and policing courses. In particular, it has guided the approach taken by the national police forces of Norway, Vietnam and Indonesia in their efforts to improve the way police carry out interviews with witnesses, victims and suspects.
The ‘current situation’ report summarised a robust research programme that included a national survey of 400 police practitioners, a formal assessment of 211 suspect and witness interviews, consultation with a wide range of internal and external parties, and surveys of police prosecutors, district court judges, and crown solicitors. In addition, the research included a review of case law, an assessment of interviewing equipment and rooms, an assessment of official policies and documentation, a series of focus groups, and a pilot-test of proposed new interview training.
In putting together recommendations for New Zealand Police, Mary recognised the need for a practical strategy that would: reflect an understanding of front-line concerns; answer administrative and management questions; deliver savings; reduce the organisation’s legal exposure; and increase public satisfaction with the way investigative interviews are carried out. The investigative interviewing strategy that she put forward – and which was accepted in full by New Zealand Police – included ethics and principles; policy; interview training, standards and competency; technology; quality assurance; and evaluation. In addition, the strategy incorporated continuing development, maintenance and support, communications, and official guidance.
Although Mary left New Zealand soon after finishing the review, she has maintained an interest in New Zealand Police’s efforts to implement the strategy. In a recent trip back to New Zealand, she had several meetings with senior police officers where she encouraged them to increase the commitment, time and resources given to investigative interviewing. Interviewing is arguably one of the most vital skills a police officer needs and accordingly should remain firmly on every police force’s agenda.
What Mary brings to any task is a strong track-record in:
- having a positive and flexible attitude
- working methodically with great attention to detail
- quickly developing a good understanding of new and specialist topics
- finding workable solutions to complex problems
- presenting sound evidence to influence decision-makers
- delivering objectives on time and to budget
- compiling accurate and easily understood documents, plans and spreadsheets
- making sound decisions based upon a mixture of values, analysis, experience and judgement
- having the courage to challenge individuals and ‘status quo thinking’ where necessary
- staying calm under pressure and demonstrating resilience
- building and maintaining effective working relationships.
Mary is based in Cambridge UK but is available for short and long term projects in any part of the world.