Pilot trials on the use of audio and audio visual recording of interviews with suspects are ongoing in four selected Garda stations — the Bridewells in Dublin and Cork and Tallaght and Portlaoise stations. These trials are being overseen by a steering committee under the chairmanship of Circuit Court Judge Esmond Smyth whose task it is to assess them and report to me on whether an effective and economic basis can be found for a national scheme. Up until recently the pilot trials had been in operation at these stations on a non-statutory voluntary basis. However, on average, only 8 per cent of suspects agreed to have their interviews recorded. The steering committee advised me that they would be unable to reach definitive conclusions on the effects of electronic recording on the basis of such a low percentage take-up and they accordingly recommended that I make regulations under section 27 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984, making it mandatory that interviews in the pilot trial stations be recorded, subject to the gardaí having a discretion to discontinue electronic recording where a suspect objects to continued recording.
Having accepted the recommendation of the steering committee, I made the Criminal Justice, 1984 (Electronic Recording of Interviews) Regulations, 1997 on 11 February of this year, copies of which are available in the Library. These Regulations provide for the electronic recording of interviews with suspects detained under section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984, section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act, 1939 and, as adverted to by the Deputy in her question, section 2 of the Criminal Justice (Drug Trafficking) Act, 1996, in the four Garda stations participating in the pilot scheme.