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Police: Records of Questioning

Volume 710: debated on Monday 18 May 2009


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether police officers are required to keep a notebook or tape recording of questioning of a suspect before and after an arrest; whether such records are expected to be made available to any person wishing to make a claim against the police; in how many cases involving the Metropolitan Police in the past two years requests for such evidence have been refused due to it being mislaid; and what disciplinary action has been taken against police officers for failure to retain such records in a safe manner. [HL2991]

The code of practice on the statutory power of arrest by police officers (PACE Code G) issued under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) 1984 requires that the arresting officer must record in his pocket book or by other methods of recording information about the nature and circumstances leading to the arrest; the reason or reasons why arrest was necessary; the giving of the caution; and anything said by the person at the time of arrest. Such a record should be made at the time of the arrest unless impracticable to do so. If not made at the time, the record should then be completed as soon as possible thereafter.

The information given by the arresting officer on the circumstances and reason or reasons for arrest must be recorded as part of the custody record.

PACE Code E on the audio recording of interviews with suspects requires that audio recording must be used at police stations for any interview with a person cautioned for an indictable offence. At the end of the interview, the suspect must be handed a notice which explains how the audio recording will be used; the arrangements for access to it; and that, if the person is charged or informed that they will be prosecuted, a copy of the audio recording will be supplied.

PACE Code of Practice C for the detention, treatment and questioning of persons by police officers provides that a solicitor or appropriate adult must be permitted to consult the custody record as soon as practicable on arrival at the police station and any other time when the person is detained. A copy of the custody record must be made available if requested by a solicitor or appropriate adult after a person leaves police detention. This entitlement lasts for 12 months after release. The detainee and appropriate adult or legal representative shall be permitted to inspect the original custody record after the detainee has left police detention.

The Metropolitan Police advise that they do not hold a central record of instances where requests for evidence made by persons wishing to make a claim against the force has been refused due it being mislaid.

Disciplinary action against individual police officers or police staff is an operational matter for chief officers.