4.15 Achieving Best Evidence: Interviews of Children
- 1. Criteria for Video Interviews
- 2. Purpose
- 3. Conduct of Joint Video Interviews
- 4. Child's Consent to the Video Recording of an Interview
1. Criteria for Video Interviews
See "Achieving best evidence: Guidance on interviewing victims and witnesses, and guidance on using spacial measures(3RD Edition)" for full and detailed Guidance.
Given the variety of children's backgrounds and the different circumstances leading to suspicion of abuse there are no hard and fast rules or unequivocal criteria that apply to the video recording of interviews. However among the considerations to be taken into account at the Strategy Meeting/Discussion before proceeding with any video -recorded interview with the child are the following:
- The individual child's circumstances; current or previous contact with public services; previous concerns around parenting, neglect or abuse; and the history of the current allegation;
- The purpose and likely value of a video recorded interview on this occasion;
- Competency, compellability and availability of the child for cross examination;
- The child's ability and willingness to talk in a formal interview setting;
- The use of an intermediary and/or aids to communication (interviews involving intermediaries and/or aids to communication should be video recorded unless the child does not consent or there are exceptional circumstances for not doing so);
- Preparation of the child before the interview.
Any video recorded interview serves two primary purposes:
- Evidence gathering for use in criminal proceedings; and
- Evidence in chief of the child witness.
In addition any relevant information gained during the interview can be used to
- Inform enquiries under Section 47 and any subsequent actions to safeguard and promote the child's welfare, and possibly the welfare of other children;
- Informing any subsequent civil childcare proceedings;
- Informing any disciplinary proceedings against adult carers.
3. Conduct of Joint Video Interviews
In all cases where it is agreed to conduct a video recorded interview of a child, "Achieving best evidence: Guidance on interviewing victims and witnesses, and guidance on using spacial measures(3RD Edition)" must be followed and staff conducting the interview must have had appropriate training.
Consideration should also be given to the gender of interviewers, particularly in cases of alleged sexual abuse.
The video interview must only be undertaken following and within the parameters agreed at a Strategy Discussion / Meeting.
Those conducting the interview must meet to agree and record a plan for the interview, using the Child Witness Interview Planning Form SCS790 - based on Achieving Best Evidence, which must be signed off by a line manager either from the Police or Surrey Children's Services. A copy of the plan must be placed on the child's file.
In planning the interview, consideration must be given to the child's race, culture, language, gender and religious differences as well as disability or communication difficulties, and advice should be taken as required from appropriate specialists (see Seeing the child 3.1.64).
4. Child's Consent to the Video Recording of an Interview
The video recording of interviews of children may only be carried out with the consent of the child her/himself. The interviewers are responsible for ensuring that, as far as possible, the child is freely participating in the interview, and not merely complying with a request from adult authority figures.