Protect the Evidence and the Child with a High-Quality Interview Recording Equipment System

Digital Recording of Child Forensic Interviews was found to enhance the ability of prosecutors to file appropriate charges. The ability to demonstrate the demeanor and facial expression of the child was helpful in obtaining timely prosecutions.

Forensic Child Interviews

Child Advocacy Centers pioneer best practices for child abuse interviews. Their non-leading questioning techniques and careful documentation shield child victims from the need to confront their abusers. They also reduce the number of interviews children are subjected to, and increase convictions in cases that go to trial. Digital video is a natural partner for CACs.

There are many reasons why videoing a child interview might be a good idea. One is the simple fact that you’ll reduce the number of times the child has to relive the event. Child witnesses also have a high level of recantation, and video provides incontrovertible evidence that a child did make an accusation. In fact, video testimony can be used to help refresh a child’s memory in the event that they do have to testify in court.

iRecord Advantage

ONE TOUCH INTERVIEW RECORDING

Eliminate costly and time consuming video training with iRecords one touch recording. If you can operate a light switch you can record an interview with iRecord. (Click Here For 10 Second Training Video)

EVIDENCE VAULT

The iRecord Evidence Vault is one of the very first interview management tracking applications for Child Advocacy Centers (CACs). Our software is ideal for agencies that track interviews from the point of recording until it is ordered to be destroyed.

iRecord Benefits

From the Child’s View

From a child victim’s standpoint, a high quality interview may help resolve a case without the child ever having to physically come to court, which might force the child to confront his or her abuser. In addition, video adds to the credibility of the case and documents exactly how the child disclosed, as well as the types of interview questions that were used.

Video of Child Abuse Interviews Increases Confessions

There are understandable concerns that allowing the accused to watch the child abuse interview re-victimizes the child. For this reason, most prosecutors who use videoed child interviews set limits that fall short of releasing the video to the defense attorneys. Generally, the video is watched in judge’s chambers by the judge, the defense attorney, and possibly the defendant. Being confronted with video testimony tends to elicit a higher number of confessions, and this seems to hold true in child abuse cases, as well.

Using a Video System Protects Children

While the Supreme Court has made statements in support of videoing child interviews, they’ve thus far stopped short of mandating it. This means, of course, that responsibility for deciding whether recordings are required falls to the states. If your state doesn’t have any laws mandating recorded interviews, you’re in the clear, right?

Wrong.

In a recent court case in Macomb County, Michigan, a defense attorney challenged the prosecutor’s office for failing to video the testimony of the victim. The attorney argued that there might have been exculpatory value to such a recording, and that their defense had been deprived access.

Anyone considering video for their CAC should take note of this story. In Maycomb County, the prosecutor didn’t choose to video child interviews. However, approximately 15 out of Michigan’s 22 Child Advocacy Centers did. This had the effect of setting a precedent, leaving those that didn’t conform labeled as outliers.

The question is not whether your state agencies are moving toward increased use of video, but when. As video becomes a routine tool, you may be asked why you’re not using it yet. Integrating digital recording into your workflow now enables you to set your own policies for how and when video will be used and disseminated…and maybe even set precedents that will be adopted by others.

 

Anywhere

  • Software Only Download Option
  • Microsoft Surface Pro Tablet
  • Chain of Evidence
  • Copies in WMV, WMA & MPEG-4
  • Video Grab Frame Technology
  • META Data
  • Searchable Notes
  • Save to USB Flash Drive
  • Thumbnail Video Playback Preview
  • SQL Database
  • Simple One-Touch Recording
  • Touch Screen User Interface
  • New, Next-Generation Interface Design
  • Export to all iRecord Legacy Systems
  • Non Proprietary CODECS
  • Video Date/Time Overlay Watermarking

Universe

  • IP Cameras / HD
  • Video Grab Frame Technology
  • META Data
  • Searchable Notes
  • Thumbnail Video Playback Preview
  • Simple One-Touch Recording
  • Video Redaction Software
  • Non Proprietary CODECS
  • Picture in Picture
  • Remote Start/Stop
  • Save To USB Flash Drive
  • Windows Media Files / Consumer DVD
  • Video Date/Time Overlay Watermarking
  • Chain of Evidence – Audit Trail Report
  • Video File Import
  • Cost Efficient CJIS Cloud Storage
  • Save Valuable Server Area Space with Cloud Storage

Enterprise

  • Automatic Cloud Backups
  • Mobile and Desktop Cloud Access
  • Easy-share Recordings
  • Secure Storage and Backups
  • Quick File Recovery
  • CJIS Compliant Cloud
  • Advanced Network Connectivity (LAN or WAN)
  • Windows 2008 Server
  • Advanced Interdepartmental Security
  • Automatically Export Files to Network Storage
  • Advanced Long Term Storage Options
  • Compatible with Virtual Servers
  • Advanced Backup and Redundancy
  • Supports Unlimited Simultaneous Users
  • Single Centralized Database

Child Advocacy Case Studies

Delaware county child advocacy center

The Delaware County Child Advocacy Center, located in Muncie, IN, is a facility-based community partnership dedicated to pursuing the truth in child abuse investigations. Professionals work as a multidisciplinary team to investigate and intervene in cases of suspected child abuse, primarily sexual abuse. This multidisciplinary team approach brings together all the professionals and agencies needed to offer comprehensive services: law enforcement, child protective services, prosecution, victim advocates, forensic interviewers, mental-health and the medical community.

Download the Full Case Study

CHAUCIE’S PLACE CASE STUDY

The center provides a location for members of a multi-disciplinary team to come together and perform a forensic interview of a child who is alleged to be a victim of child abuse or neglect. The objective is to provide a quick, professional response by law enforcement, child protection services and the prosecutor’s office to a case, so the trauma to the child can be minimized and an appropriate course of action can be expedited. In these interviews, children are given the chance to tell a professional the abuse that they are incurring or about a specific incident. These interviews need to be recorded for evidence in the pending cases, and they need to contain as much information as possible. In conducting over 1,900 victim interviews since its inception, Chaucie’s Place was searching for an easy and efficient way to record these interviews.

Download the Full Case Study

Child Advocacy Recording Suite

Click below to learn more about each of iRecord’s cutting-edge, digital recording and storage products.

Evidence Vault

Anywhere

Universe

CJIS Cloud

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Knowledge Center

HOW CHILD ADVOCACY CENTERS HELP KIDS

Before CACs existed, at-risk and abused children had a very different experience than they do now. Now, they serve over 300,000 children a year. Here are the most important benefits CACs provide.

Carefully Trained Interviewers
Prior to the existence of CACs, the interview process could vary widely from one case to another. Untrained interviewers might engage in improper techniques more likely to elicit false allegations, or they might simply conduct a clumsy interview. In such cases, rapport might not be established, which would make the child less likely to disclose abuse. Alternatively, sloppy questioning might lead to a lack of detail that would result in a failed prosecution. Because CAC interviewers are carefully trained in forensic interviewing techniques, successful prosecutions are more likely. When done well, only one interview is necessary, which means that children don’t have to relive traumatic events multiple times.

A Child-Friendly Environment
For a child, stepping into a clinical setting or an interview room designed for adults can be very intimidating. Naturally, this adversely affects the interview process. In a Child Advocacy Center, the interview room is likely to have a play area and art supplies, so a child can disclose while engaging in a familiar activity. It’s also likely to have child-sized seating, so that the adult interacts on the child’s level, rather than the reverse.

A Buffer from Their Abuser
This may seem unbelievable now, but in the past, child victims were sometimes interviewed in the presence of the alleged abuser. The rise in digitally recorded interviews further protects the child by preserving more nuanced evidence, and reducing the likelihood that a child will have to testify in court.

More Effective Prosecution
Child Advocacy Centers prevent many problems that plague child abuse cases. Poorly handled investigations increase trauma for the child at all stages of the process. A bad interview can even reduce a child’s credibility in the eyes of judges and prosecutors. Poor evidence also leads to incidents of false allegations. When you consider that a false allegation may result in the child being separated from loving parents or caregivers, the importance of this becomes even more clear. Failed cases are a drain on the resources of law enforcement offices, and fail to protect our most vulnerable citizens. They also become lightning rods for negative media attention.

Resources for Recovery
A final point worth noting is that CACs continue working with families after their role in evidence collection is complete. CACs provide counseling and connect families with a variety of other services, as well. Their work goes beyond the scope of what law enforcement can provide. In this way, they ensure that the victims of abuse and neglect are protected from a case’s beginning to its end, while also preserving high quality forensic evidence to protect the child from his or her abuser in the future. Child Advocacy Centers’ careful interviewing, documentation, and support improves outcomes for victims, their families, and prosecutors.

CHILD WITNESSES: THE RIGHT APPROACH

When a child is not the victim, but a witness, access can be complicated. Conflicting priorities place people who would normally be on the same side at odds with each other. How can law enforcement agencies navigate this complex situation to get the information they need while also protecting the child? Here are some key factors to consider.

Understand the rights involved. Clearly, police have the right to question a child. They don’t have to speak to a parent first, and they don’t have to have permission. On the other side of the coin, children can refuse to be interviewed. If a child’s parents are not present at the initial moment of contact, they can ask for them, and the police must accommodate them. Of course, once parents are present, they can refuse to allow the child to be interviewed, and there goes your witness out the door. Those are the bare bones of the situation, but we’re a long way from the full story.

Understand the family’s fears. It can be frustrating to be blocked from interviewing a child, and not just because the child might be a critical witness to your case. If a child has witnessed domestic violence, for example, you may have concerns about which parent is currently supervising the child. You may have worries about the child’s recollection being manipulated. These are valid concerns. Conversely, there are many reasons why a parent would be hesitant to have a child testify. If they witnessed a violent crime in their community, parents will worry that they could become a target. Or they might consider it too traumatic for a child to testify against a family member.

Be an ally when possible. To allay parental concerns, you’re going to need to genuinely relate to their fears, and you’ll need to be able to communicate that to them. You’re going to want to make the interview process as painless as possible. And that’s where video comes in.

Videoing interviews meets everyone’s needs. Video interviews are incredibly useful in cases with child witnesses. As we’ve discussed before, you can use mobile devices to conduct interviews early, when the witness’s recollection is still fresh, because you’ll have what you need with you when the moment arises. You can also do the interview where the child is most comfortable. And when you use a service like iRecord, you’ll have high-quality digital archives of the video. This makes you less likely to have to re-interview the witness, and may even reduce their likelihood of testifying in court, making it less likely they’ll have to confront the person they’re accusing.

It can be difficult to weigh the rights of a juvenile witness against the needs of your investigation. Video can be a powerful tool to ensure that you mitigate the obstacles and meet the needs of everyone involved, helping you protect and support witnesses while also moving your investigation forward.

VIDEOING CHILD INTERVIEWS SAFEGUARDS YOUR CASE

A prosecutor’s office in Macomb County, Michigan was recently challenged for not videoing child victim interviews– by the defendant.

How can this be? Well, as it turns out, the defendant’s lawyers honed in on a critical point: Macomb County’s policy of conducting non-recorded interviews was out of step with state protocols. The defense attorneys argued that the prosecution had failed to provide them with evidence they were entitled to– evidence which might be exculpatory. They also stated that the interview was the foundation of the prosecution’s case, and that if they hadn’t followed proper procedure, then the case was fundamentally flawed.

Fortunately, the judge who heard this argument found there was adequate evidence to proceed, and the defendant was found guilty and received a stiff sentence. But what might have happened had the judge been more receptive to the defense attorneys’ argument? If you’re not videoing your child interviews, could you be jeopardizing your case?

There are many reasons why videoing a child interview might be a good idea. One is the simple fact that you’ll reduce the number of times the child has to relive the event. Child witnesses also have a high level of recantation, and video provides incontrovertible evidence that a child did make an accusation. In fact, video testimony can be used to help refresh a child’s memory in the event that they do have to testify in court.

There are cons, too, as with any complex issue. Notably, there are understandable concerns that allowing the accused to watch the video re-victimizes the child. For this reason, most prosecutors who use videoed child interviews set limits that fall short of releasing the video to the defense attorneys. Generally, the video is watched in judge’s chambers by the judge, the defense attorney, and possibly the defendant. As we’ve discussed before, being confronted with video testimony tends to elicit a higher number of confessions, and this seems to hold true in child abuse cases, as well.

While the Supreme Court has made statements in support of videoing child interviews, they’ve thus far stopped short of mandating it. This means, of course, that responsibility for deciding whether recordings are required falls to the states. That brings us back to an important point regarding Michigan, the state where the case we’re discussing was prosecuted. While the Macomb County prosecutor is against videoing child interviews, approximately 15 out of 22 child advocacy centers in Michigan do.This has the effect of setting a precedent, leaving those that don’t conform labeled as outliers. As video becomes a routine tool, new challenges by defendants may indeed find support.

The question is not whether your state agencies are moving toward increased use of video, but when. Integrating digital recording into your workflow now enables you to set your own policies for how and when video will be used and disseminated…and maybe even set precedents that will be adopted by others.

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