Interview Recording in Japan
18yrs ago I was privileged to hold a position as the Force Interview Manager for Greater Manchester Police (GMP), known then as a ‘Tier 5’.
I was particularly proud on being the first support staff ISO in the UK appointed to this position full time in 2006; the pinnacle of a CID career enabling a passion for ethical investigation and standards to secure real and meaningful change in investigative interviewing practice.
All the more poignant being schooled from the late 1970’s in a pre-PACE (and PEACE) ‘Life on Mars’ confession driven interview methodology!
At that time police forces were still using archaic tape recording methodology to faithfully capture and store interview narratives and, supported by a particularly visionary Force Interview Champion, DCS Tony Mole (ret’d) I first proposed the concept of digitally recording and storing interviews on a server with secure remote access. The key to the business case was the cashable saving of £300,000pa on consumables, audio tapes, for which UK policing provided the sole global market for the Chinese producers and during training new recruits had to be shown how to operate a tape recorder!
Appointed as the business lead on GMPs Digital Interview Recording (DIR) project a decade ago I had opportunity to author the Business Requirements Document (BRD) in such a way that it realistically met the practical demands of investigators. With the support of my then command we took on the Home Office and the (then) NPIA (now College of Policing) who had developed a procurement framework that simply offered solutions that either didn’t exist or failed dramatically to meet the demands and expectations of 21st century policing and investigation.
So it was that I came to host Professor Makoto Ibusuki, then an advisor to the (new) Japanese Government on Law and Investigation who was leading a project in Japan to introduce mandatory recording of suspect interviews and who had heard of the cutting-edge work in GMP.
By now, recognising the added value of investigative interviewing, the force had invested in appointing 3 full-time advisors and a cohort of 12 advisors who performed the role alongside their ‘day-jobs’ and the force had 24/7 Interview advisor call-out coverage. It was in the vanguard of tactical use of evidence, application of research informed practice way before terms like ‘evidence-based policing’ had even even been coined. UK forces would come to GMP for support and practical advice, by-passing the NPIA (colloquially known as the ‘No Point In Asking’ organisation), recording of key witness interviews (including police officers) had become routine saving thousands of hours in court time and delivering secure, fair and reliable justice for all CJS stakeholders.
In Japan suspects were ‘interviewed’ but only the confession element of the interview was recorded at that time (No Comment!).
GMP worked with Indico Recording Systems, Reliance Hi-Tech, and Sopra Steria to deliver a best in class server based DIR solution that serves the force without problem today.
It was a legacy project that has never failed in hundreds of thousands of recordings, worked 24/7 for weeks on end in the aftermath of the tragic Manchester bombing, enables real-time live-streaming and saved hundreds of thousands in time and money.
10 years since that visit by Professor Ibusuki he contacted again asking to visit GMP, proud that in July this year (2019) he finally achieved his goal, securing mandatory recording of suspect interviews from the outset of detention, not all of them however, just those of certain severity that attracted a specific level of punishment if convicted, a step in the right direction.
So it was that GMP hosted a re-vist recently and thanks must go to the Force for the welcome and informative demonstration of investigative interview practice by their incumbent Interview Advisors.
Professors Ibusuki and Yamada were joined by Professor Dave Walsh, University of Leicester, who is currently supporting forensic psychology research in Japan.
Japan’s next priority is to explore the forensic interviewing of vulnerable members of society so we were extremely grateful that DC Laura Hynes found some time in her busy schedule to explain and demonstrate her ground-breaking work in this area of business, work that has already saved exposing young people to the vagaries of the CJS and secured reliable justice for many.
Yes, Laura is the authors daughter and I am hugely proud that she now has my old job – it’s in safer hands than mine!
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Thank you GMP!