New Zealand Law Society - Police testing phone app to video victim statements

Police testing phone app to video victim statements

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Police officers in the Counties Manukau district have started trialing an app on their phone to record audio-visual victim statements.

Instead of requiring victims of family violence to provide a written and signed statement of what happened back at the police station, police officers will video the victim's statement.

A statement by Police Minister Paula Bennett and Justice Minister Amy Adams says this will be a lot faster, less complex and completed on scene.

“The new approach will change how Police respond at family harm investigations, it will make an already difficult situation less stressful, while keeping with internationally recommended practice," Ms Bennett says.

Ms Adams says the intention is to have the statements played in court.

"Videos can only be taken with the victim’s consent. They will be uploaded to secure, cloud-based storage while the investigation and court process takes place," she says.

The use of mobile devices to video record family harm victim statements were first tested from November 2015 to July 2016 by Police staff in Palmerston North as part of a proof of concept. In May 2016 the Palmerston North District Court declined to admit the victim’s video statement to be played in court as their evidence in chief.

Information released by Paula Bennett and Amy Adams says that ruling reinforced that changes needed to be made to the Evidence Regulations, recognising considerable technological advancements for obtaining evidence were now available.

"As a result, the Ministry of Justice amended the Evidence Regulations to include provisions for mobile video records in criminal proceedings relating to family violence. These changes came into effect on 9 January 2017."

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