University of Portsmouth study says video interviews would convict more rapists

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FILMING rape victims’ police interviews could help bring more sex offenders to justice, according to new research by the.

Dr Becky Milne, of the university’s institute of criminal justice studies, says the study of 100 officers in New Zealand could persuade the UK authorities to use more credible evidence in court.

More than 90 per cent of the police investigators, high-ranking officers and adult sex crime interviewers came out in favour of using video evidence in court for the study, led by Australia’s Griffith University.

They said it would provide a fuller and more accurate picture from the victim – often the only source of evidence in such cases.

And they say prosecutors are more likely to institute proceedings in the first place if video evidence was available.

While the UK already has legislation dating back to 1999 that allows a rape victim’s statement to be produced in court before cross-examination, it is discretionary and rarely used.

Police are more often asked to interview the victim, write up a report and present it in court, which is not ideal says Dr Milne.

She explained: ‘Using video interviewing is beneficial for three reasons.

‘If you film a victim after the event their memory is fresh, but as time goes by it fades.

‘From the officer’s point of view, the process of asking formal questions, listening to the victims and relying on their memory to write them down accurately is problematic.

‘Finally, it is much quicker for the victims and stops the stress of having to give evidence all over again in court.’

Dr Milne, who also sits on the national Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) committee for investigative interviewing and has the ear of fellow members from the crown prosecution and police services, added: ‘We would like to see a system where video interviewing is more commonplace.

‘The difficulty at the moment is time and money, but if we can prove this is getting offenders off the streets in the long term then it will be worth it.

‘And for victims of rape, we will be able to make sure they get their voices heard.’