As I mentioned in my reply to the hon. Member's question of 2 March, we have consulted the Association of Chief Police Officers about the forces to be included in the first order to be laid under section 60(1)(b) of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. We expect to hear from the association towards the end of this month. We will then bring forward an order as soon as possible.
Forces do not require an order before they can start tape recording. At least five forces are now tape recording interviews throughout their areas and all forces expect to be using tape recording forcewide by 1991.
I thank the hon. Gentleman for that reply. It seems to be taking a long time to get this practice into place. Has the Minister any evidence of problems arising from summaries being made of tape-recorded interviews? Is it not slightly defeating the purpose if juries are given summaries of tape recordings rather than having an opportunity of hearing those parts of tape recordings which might be disputed?
It is true that when the process started the summaries tended to be a bit too prolix. I am glad to say that that problem has been tackled and that it is no longer happening in the majority of cases. When juries need to listen to the tapes they can do so. There is no doubt that this is a great improvement both in terms of law enforcement and of civil liberties.
Is my hon. Friend aware that, to my knowledge, it is 15 years since this matter was first pressed on a Government, so that any action now being taken is most welcome? Is he further aware that during those years there has been a technological revolution and that it is now possible to video record interviews much more cheaply? What thought is being given to introducing video-recorded interviews in police stations, which would be more effective than the audio type?
My hon. and learned Friend is right to emphasise the importance of this procedure. We hope that by the end of 1991 all forces will be tape recording forcewide. We have no plans to introduce the video recording of interviews at this stage, though the House will know that a certain amount of work is being done on the possibility of video recording the evidence of young persons in sex offence cases.