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Police Interviews (Tape Recording)

Volume 114: debated on Monday 6 April 1987

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asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is now in a position to make a statement on the outcome of the consultation exercise on tape recording of police interviews with suspects.

Yes. I am most grateful for the very thorough responses which were received to the consultation paper on tape recording. All but one of the organisations responded and were clearly well aware of the importance of this development. The replies revealed a general consensus on most of the key issues. This showed the value of an extended experiment in providing sound experience to inform the next stage of policy development.Virtually all respondents supported the introduction of tape recording for CID interviews with suspects where the case was serious enough to be taken in the High Court or sheriff court (including serious cases heard in a district court before a stipendiary magistrate). The majority also shared my own longer term objective for the extention of tape recording to all police interviews. In the light of these replies, and following consultation with my right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate, I am asking chief constables throughout Scotland to begin the necessary preliminary work on buildings, equipment and training with a view to a rolling programme of implementation beginning on 1 April 1988 and concluding two years later. This initial introduction of tape recording will apply only to CID interviews; any further extentions of tape recording will depend on the outcome of its use in CID interviews.There was some divergence of view on whether those aged under 16 should have their interviews recorded on tape. The majority argued powerfully that such persons were particularly in need of the protection afforded to a suspect by tape recording and commented on the inequity if such protection were to be denied to an individual purely on the basis of age. I have considered this matter very carefully and have decided to accept the majority of respondents' views, that tape recording should apply to all CID interviews, regardlss of the age of the suspect. Only those cases which are serious enough to warrant prosecution in at least the summary sheriff court will be affected by this decision but it represents a significant additional safeguard for the children concerned.My officials are already discussing with chief constables what resources are required to implement this development.