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Police Interviews (Tape Recording)

Volume 20: debated on Tuesday 16 March 1982

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asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a further statement on the tape recording of police questioning of suspects.

The experimental tape recording of police interviews with suspects which started in Dundee and Falkirk police stations on 1 May 1980 will continue at least until mid-1982. As my hon. Friend indicated in his reply to the hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar)—[Vol. 2, c. 84]—on 31 March 1981 we have found no insuperable technical difficulties in recording questioning on tape. Difficulties remain however to be resolved about bringing the tapes as evidence before the court and further clarification of the law is desirable. At present, however, the scope of the experiment is limited and the number of relevant cases coming before the courts is small. It has therefore been agreed, after discussion with the chief constables concerned and with the Association of Chief Police Officers (Scotland), that the experiment should continue in Dundee and Falkirk and be extended to police stations in Glasgow and Aberdeen from April this year.The Government's view remains that the tape recording of police interrogations is a desirable development, but it is essential that the experiment should continue until we have a clear idea of the practical and legal implications before considering its wider introduction.