How Do We Serve Victims of Sexual Assault with Social Distancing?

The time of sheltering in place may mean that fewer people are out in public, but that doesn’t automatically put an end to crime. The coronavirus outbreak has even put some families and individuals at greater risk of domestic violence, and we can’t ignore that sexual assault is still occurring. As we continue to address public health concerns in our communities, the crucial work of SART professionals and how we collect forensic interview evidence needs to adapt.

Develop a Social Distancing Plan

First, teams must acknowledge the challenges of adhering to the social distancing guidelines for these types of sensitive cases, especially for the survivors’ follow-up medical care. However, there are still definitive steps that response teams can take to help ensure the safety of the people they are serving, as well as their own health. Practicing social distancing during the process of collecting interview evidence has understandably become a top priority. SART and public safety professionals who understand their options with remote forensic recording should be able to continue serving their communities with minimal interruptions.

Remote Interview Recording Techniques

While there are a variety of platforms for conducting remote video calls, security for today’s teleforensic interviews can face multiple setbacks. For example, teams will need to have confidence in how the interviews will be recorded and stored. They will also want to ensure that their interview subject is in a comfortable and private setting for the duration of the conversation. These factors are easily controlled in an onsite setting. But they can be difficult to manage with the remote recording model.

As such, some teams may feel that in-person meetings are still preferred. Rather than schedule their interviews at their typical facility (especially if the interview room is located inside of a larger healthcare facility), they could arrange for a mobile advocacy center. These vehicles have traditionally been useful for individuals living in more remote areas. In the days of COVID, however, they could become even more relevant. By arranging for sexual assault survivors to meet in a mobile interview recording room, their exposure to the virus can be greatly reduced. Additionally, the professionals conducting the interview can have the benefit of working with a more robust and secure recording system.

Other teams may find that they can get by without a mobile advocacy center. For them, having mobile recording equipment, like our iRecord Anywhere system, can give them the flexibility they need to meet with individuals off-prem and outside of their own interview recording room. Being able to take your equipment on-site in hospitals or wherever the victim feels most comfortable will help ensure teams record the most accurate interview evidence.

Support Your Process with iRecord Solutions

There are many considerations for how to adapt the interview process during the time of COVID and social distancing. Some measures will surely be more manageable or reliable than others. That’s why we encourage public safety and SART professionals to contact our team at iRecord to discuss your options. Even if you have already established an interim process for recording your interviews in accordance with social distancing, it always helps to have a quick review and learn from how other teams are managing these changes.

If your current platform were to fail, would you be able to have a backup file stored? Or for the interviews conducted over the internet—what would happen if your connection was suddenly lost? Preparing for these types of scenarios ahead of time can help protect your evidence from a worst case scenario. Virtual interviews may become a long-term option for navigating sensitive cases, both during COVID and beyond. Let us help equip your agency and determine the right process for your team and those you serve.

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