Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (Codes of Practice) (Visual Recording of Interviews) Order 2002

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Mr. Paice: The Minister mentioned a trial that will use three separate cameras. For clarification, will there be three simultaneous tapes throughout the interview, or will someone decide which camera is recording—as happens in the House?

Mr. Ainsworth: There will be separate tapes from the cameras. As I understand it, there will be a master tape, which will be sealed in the presence of the defence, and will not be opened or interfered with without the agreement of the Crown Prosecution Service and without defence representatives having the opportunity to be present.

There will be one tape from three cameras, and one image from three cameras. The hon. Gentleman has obviously asked me a question to which I do not understand the answer, and I should admit that now. That will teach me to get into the technicalities. Frankly, I do not know the answer or whether that will prevent him from supporting the order. There will be

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a seal on the tape so that no one can interfere with it without the agreement of both sides. I am not able to tell the hon. Gentleman whether that will be on separate copies from separate cameras, or how the technology will work.

Simon Hughes: Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Ainsworth: I shall give way. This might give me the time to find inspiration.

Simon Hughes: I am trying to be helpful, and the Minister may be able to get the best possible advice on the first point. I shall leave the hon. Member for South-East Cambridgeshire to pursue the technological point about the camera, but I want to ask the Minister about the length of time that tapes will be kept. I thank him for his undertaking to come back to me, but the central question is whether the Government accept that, at the end of the period for which the police think that it is necessary to keep tapes in case of future action, the tapes should be returned to the individual or destroyed in his presence or in the presence of his representative. That is what should happen, and I should be grateful if he would confirm that that is Government policy. If they have not decided, I would be happy to visit him and his colleagues to try to find a satisfactory solution.

Mr. Ainsworth: I understand the hon. Gentleman's concerns. I shall respond to him later and tell him exactly where we are, so that he will know whether he has a problem and when to raise it appropriately.

On the question raised by the hon. Member for South-East Cambridgeshire, it is a technological problem rather than one that will affect the interviewee's evidence. Three images will run on one tape. I do not know how the electronics will work, as I am unable to turn on the video recorder without the help of my daughter. However, the images will be continuous, which was the main point of concern, and no one will pick and choose between the images and possibly create a distorted version of the interview. There will be three images and a whole-time video recording. The time will be recorded on the image, so that any break will be immediately apparent. That was what concerned the hon. Gentleman, rather than how the technology worked.

With that, I commend the order to the Committee.

Question put and agreed to.


    That the Committee has considered the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (Codes of Practice) (Visual Recording of Interviews) Order 2002.

        Committee rose at nine minutes past Five o'clock.

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The following Members attended the Committee:
Cran, Mr. James (Chairman)
Abbott, Ms
Ainsworth, Mr. Bob
Cox, Tom
Cunningham, Tony
Dean, Mrs.
Flook, Mr.

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Hayes, Mr.
Hughes, Simon
Lepper, Mr.
Paice, Mr.
Stoate, Dr.
Woolas, Mr.

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