Tuesday, 19 October 2004

Questions (347)

Joe Costello


487 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress to date in the programme of fitting out rooms in Garda stations with audio-video systems for the recording of suspect interviews; the number of stations chosen for the programme; the person by whom the choice regarding the number and location was made; if an instruction has been given to the Garda Síochána in relation to the choice of station to which persons should be brought for questioning; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25448/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform)

The Criminal Justice Act 1984 (Electronic Recording of Interviews) Regulations 1997 provide for the recording of interviews of suspects who are detained in custody. In 1999 the Government decided to introduce an audio-video system on a nationwide basis for the recording of such interviews. I am advised by the Garda authorities that the number of locations — 132 — and interview rooms — 229 — now equipped with and using the specialised recording equipment is such as to provide the broad nationwide coverage intended by Government. The decision on the number and location of Garda stations selected to ensure compliance with the Government decision is an operational matter. The stations to which persons are brought for questioning is entirely a matter for the Garda authorities, having due regard to the provisions of the above mentioned regulations. No additional instructions have issued to the Garda in that regard.

I am advised by the Garda authorities that from the start of the scheme to June 2003, almost 94% of all interviews for offences specified in the regulations were recorded and that internal Garda directions emphasise that interviews without electronic recording shall be wholly exceptional.