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Trials (Tape Recording)

Volume 87: debated on Thursday 21 November 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will call for a report from the chief constable of Leicestershire on the tape recording trials undertaken by Leicestershire constabulary; if he will call for reports from other relevant chief constables as to how those trials compare with the other areas of testing; and if he will make a statement.

I understand that the tape recording trial in Leicester continues to go well. Police officers have continued to respond positively to the new procedures, and there have been no significant challenges to the authenticity of taped evidence. The early signs that tape recording may lead to an increase in the guilty plea rate have continued in Leicestershire; amongst other benefits, this is likely to reduce the number of occasions on which police officers have to attend court. The tape recording field trials are being monitored by the Home Office research and planning unit, and it will only be when all the tape recorded cases being monitored in the trials have been disposed of by the courts that a complete analysis of the data will be possible. The general picture emerging, however, is that the favourable impression of tape recording being gained from Leicestershire is shared in the other field trial areas.Sufficient experience has been gained from the field trials already to enable plans to be made to begin the introduction of tape recording on a national basis. Preparations are in hand to start tape recording of interviews in nearly 30 further forces during the course of the coming year. It is our intention in the course of the year to issue a code of practice in connection with the tape recording of interviews.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what steps he intends to take to improve the methods of recording the results of trial or sentence;(2) why the number of cases where the result of trial or sentence was not recorded rose from 3,038 in 1979 to 7,683 in 1984; and if he will make a statement.

The outcome of court proceedings is comprehensively recorded for criminal statistics. However, the statistics referred to by the hon. Member, which are from table 2.4 of "Prison Statistics, England and Wales 1984", relate to the outcome of those court proceedings for those remanded in custody. That information is reported by prison department establishments and is always less complete for the most recent year when some cases will not have reached disposal. The latest year's figures will be revised in next year's publication, but the information will remain incomplete because prison department establishments may have difficulty in tracing the outcome of a case.