Sunday, November 10, 2013

Trial Use of Videos of Police Interviews of Rape Victims

Jane Lee, Criminal Law Review study backs video evidence in rape trials Sydney Morning Herald (November 11, 2013):
"Adult victims of childhood abuse should be able to give evidence against their alleged perpetrators using video-recorded interviews with police in criminal trials, researchers say.

"A study of adult rape victims in New Zealand has found that more than two-thirds of the details they revealed in their initial interviews with police were later left out when they testified as witnesses in court during criminal trials.

"The study, published in the Criminal Law Review journal, said that video-recorded evidence allowed witnesses' memory to be treated 'more like a "crime scene" by examining and preserving memory in a forensically safe way so that the courts receive the best evidence as measured by accuracy and completeness'.

"One of the study's authors, Dr Nina Westera, said that police used special techniques to jog a person's memory of an event and to recall it in narrative form over a longer period of time. By contrast, criminal trials often occurred years after the alleged crimes and witnesses were interviewed more quickly in a more formal, stressful environment.

"Child victims had been able to use such videos as their evidence-in-chief since the 1980s. In recent years, New Zealand, England, Wales and Norway had extended this to adult victims, who were then asked extra questions from the prosecution and cross-examined by defence lawyers.

"But in Australia, videos of police interviews could only be used as evidence for adults with intellectual disabilities."
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