Office Research

Necessitates a code of practice for the recording of interviews with suspects and was officially added to the PACE legislation in July 1988. Although the police initially met this provision with some scepticism on the basis that it safeguarded suspects , it was implemented with the express intention of reducing the occurrence of disputes pertaining to police interrogations. It is now commonly heralded as successful in doing this . The most recent version was passed in 1995 and specifies that recorded interviews should be sealed immediately after the interview with the suspect present.

A second copy of the tape is made available for the police to utilise further during their investigation. The only exception to this rule is applied in the case of terrorist suspects, whose interviews are not tape-recorded but should be contemporaneous records recorded in writing under Code C of PACE. On the whole it appears that these requirements have helped to improve the fairness of the way in which police interviews are conducted. A Home Office Research Study carried out in 1988 established that the use of recordings had improved the number of convictions based upon police interviews .

In addition to this, The Royal Commission on Criminal Justice found “that the safeguards in PACE against false confessions were basically sound”. However, not everyone is in agreement with this. Brown, in his research Ten Years On, revealed that “there are considerable problems with written records of taped Interview prepared by police officers, with up to half suffering from the omission of salient points, prolixity or prosecution bias”. In addition to this, many people argue that, whilst the interviews themselves may be in accordance with the rules of PACE, events outside the taped interview may not.

For example the police may mistreat suspects prior to officially starting the tape recording. In the case of R vs. Maguire (1990) for example, it was ruled that police could ask questions at the scene of a crime and that any information obtained via this questioning was admissible. In this particular case the suspect was under 18 and, even though he was questioned without adult supervision, the answers he gave were allowed as evidence in the hearing. The Home Office Report by David Brown further confirms that such interrogation occurs: Some questioning of suspects occurs outside of formal police station Interviews.

Up to 10 per cent of suspects are interviewed after arrest and prior to arrival at the station; up to a third of suspects who are charged may have made admissions prior to reaching the station. Once at the station, a certain amount of unregulated questioning by case officers still occurs. If such admissions outside of Code E are permitted then many of the issues that were uncovered in our assessment of Code C may not be wholly prevented by this code; oppression and verballing can take place outside the recorded interview and thus the PACE codes cannot fully ensure that interrogations are conducted in a fair and just manner.