Lancashire enters the digital age

Lancashire Constabulary is to become the first force in the country to introduce digital recording and storage of suspect interviews.

Aug 14, 2008
By Paul Jacques
Assistant Chief Constable Ben Smith

Lancashire Constabulary is to become the first force in the country to introduce digital recording and storage of suspect interviews.

The pilot study has obtained Parliamentary approval to be carried out in the force’s Eastern Division with the aim of improving standards, reducing costs and saving officer time.

Forces are currently required to provide suspects with an audio copy of interviews carried out at the station. At present this is done by cassette tape.

The six-month pilot scheme will see people arrested for certain offences take part in digitally recorded interviews for the first time. The recordings will be stored on a secure, tamper-proof server within Lancashire Constabulary. The server will be accessible to authorised members of staff, as well as the defence and prosecution. Copies of interviews will be made available to defendants who decline legal representation.

At the end of the pilot, findings will be reported back to the Home Office and evaluated. The main areas to be considered will be security and user confidence, savings in storage and reproduction costs, savings in officer time and improving police training in interviewing suspects. The use of digital recording in other forces will depend on the outcome of the pilot.

Michael Gledhill, the project manager said: “People being interviewed will not notice any great changes at the police station. However, the differences in recording quality, storage and security, proof of integrity and overall accessibility, are far superior to the previous methods.”

Tim Ewen, the head of criminal justice for Lancashire, said: “The pilot scheme is being assisted by a consortium of partners providing hardware, software and consultancy.”

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