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Professionals' perceptions of electronically recorded interviews with vulnerable witnesses
journal contributionposted on 2009-11-01, 00:00 authored by Martine Powell, R Wright
This study presents a qualitative evaluation of the Video and Audio Taped Evidence (VATE) process involving vulnerable witnesses, introduced by Victoria Police in 1996. Specifically, this study presents an analysis of individual in-depth interviews with a diverse group of 25 key Victorian stakeholders (police officers, prosecutors, solicitors, defence lawyers, and members of the judiciary). The aim of the interviews was to provide an overview of the stakeholders' perceptions of the VATE system, with particular focus on the usefulness of VATE interviews viewed or used in the stakeholders' practice. The findings revealed unanimous support for electronic recording of witness statements. However, the stakeholders also perceived that the effectiveness of the system was impeded by several factors. These include: (a) frequent absence within the interviews of a coherent account and detail needed to prove the various offences, (b) inability to scrutinise questions asked prior to the VATE interview, (c) lack of feedback regarding how well the VATE system is working, and (d) the recording medium itself which produced statements of poor sound and visual quality. Three broad recommendations arising from the interviews are discussed.