Dáil Éireann - Volume 497 - 26 November, 1998
Written Answers - Electronic Recording of Garda Interviews.
Mr. Howlin Mr. Howlin
11. Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the plans, if any, he has to extend the facilities available in Garda stations to video record interviews; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25156/98]
Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. O'Donoghue) John O'Donoghue
Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. O'Donoghue): A pilot scheme on the use of audio and audio-video recording of interviews with suspects is ongoing in four selected Garda stations — Tallaght, the Bridewells in Dublin and Cork, and Portlaoise stations. These trials are overseen by a steering committee under the chairmanship of Judge Esmond Smyth, President of the Circuit Court, whose task is to evaluate the scheme and report to me on whether an effective and economic basis can be found for a national scheme.
 There are plans to extend the pilot scheme to an additional two Garda stations — Henry Street, Limerick, and Millstreet, Galway — in order to increase the quantity of data generated to enable a thorough evaluation of the scheme, and preparations are currently in train for the fitting out and equipping of suitable interview rooms in both stations.
The availability of a sufficient quantity of qualitative and quantitative data is critical to ensuring that the steering committee can make recommendations on a reliable evidential basis. Originally and up until February 1997, the pilot trials had been in operation on a non-statutory basis only. However, due to a low percentage take-up rate of suspects agreeing to have their interviews recorded, the steering committee advised that it would be impossible to reach definitive conclusions, given those circumstances. As a consequence, and on the basis of a recommendation by the committee, the Criminal Justice, 1984 (Electronic Recording of Interviews) Regulations, 1997 were made making it mandatory that interviews in pilot trial stations be recorded, subject to the Garda having discretion to discontinue electronic recording where a suspect objected to continued recording.
With the regulations now in place for the pilot trial stations, I understand the pilot scheme has begun to produce the data on which a proper evaluation of its operation may be based. In this regard, the services of a research consultant have been engaged for the purpose of carrying out the necessary statistical analysis of the data emanating from each of the pilot scheme stations. Unfortunately, because the operation of the trials on a voluntary basis proved unsatisfactory, the time needed to compile data and evaluate results will be greater than originally anticipated.
It would be wrong to attempt to introduce a generalised system for the audio-video recording of interviews before the pilot scheme is brought to a conclusion. Once the scheme is concluded and the steering committee submits its report to me, I will act with the utmost speed in implementing its recommendations.
Dáil Éireann 497 Written Answers Electronic Recording of Garda Interviews.