Guidance on Joint Investigative Interviewing of Child Witnesses in Scotland

Good practice guidance for police officers and social workers who are carrying out joint investigative interviews with child witnesses

APPENDIX D: Information leaflet on consent

Throughout Scotland, police forces and social work departments who interview children together now record these interviews on DVD or store them on secure servers. This provides a better record than writing notes, and the questions asked and the child's reactions are fully recorded as well. It also means that the interviewers can spend more time concentrating on the welfare of the child during the interview.

We seek the child's views on recording before the interview starts.

Using a recording may help to reduce the number of times a child needs to be interviewed by other people. The recording, like any other statement taken by the police, may be shown to:

  • Social workers dealing with the child's case
  • The procurator fiscal
  • The children's reporter
  • The defence lawyer and sometimes the accused (under supervised circumstances) before the trial
  • The solicitor for the relevant persons and or children in children's hearings court proceedings
  • Solicitors representing parties in other related civil court proceedings
  • The child's safeguarder
  • Curators ad litem appointed by the court to represent the interests of the child or an adult relevant person who has a mental disorder and is unable to represent himself or herself in the proceedings
  • A judge or sheriff and a jury, in court
  • Skilled/Expert witnesses cited by the crown/defence or solicitors on behalf of other parties in other non criminal proceedings.
  • Other family members

Some of these people may not need to speak to the child again because they have the recording available instead.

If a child has to go to court to give evidence, the recording could be played as part of the evidence but the child may still have to be cross-examined in a criminal trial, though not necessarily in a children's proof or other civil proceeding. Under the Vulnerable Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2004, some children may be able to use special measures when being cross examined or attending court, including screens or TV links. These may help, if available.

There are very strict rules concerning the safekeeping and copying of recordings. They are kept by the police and only the procurator fiscal, children's reporter , the defence or the court may use them. In criminal proceedings the defence (or any skilled/expert witnesses) are only allowed to view them at the procurator fiscal's office e.g. in solemn court proceedings. Solicitors (or any skilled/expert witnesses) for the relevant persons or children, the child's safeguarder, curators ad litem for the child or adult relevant persons, can only view the recording at offices of the Scottish Children's Reporter Administration.

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