Dip Sampling Process

Home Department written question – answered on 7th April 2005.

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Photo of Claire Curtis-Thomas Claire Curtis-Thomas Labour, Crosby

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department

(1) what further safeguards have been built into the dip sampling process since 2003;

(2) how compliance with the The Investigation of Historic/Institutional Child Abuse: The SIO handbook" is assessed;

(3) what role the Inter-agency Strategic Management Group has in historic sex abuse operations;

(4) if he will make a statement on the use of the Gudjonsson Suggestibility Scales in historic sex abuse investigations;

(5) what discussions his Department has had with the Association of Chief Police Officers regarding the documentation and written recording of police interviews with complainants and other significant witnesses in historical sex abuse cases; and what the outcome was of those discussions;

(6) what research he has conducted into (a) SCAN and (b) other techniques for assessing the validity of statements for use in historical sex abuse cases;

(7) if he will make a statement on the advice provided by the Association of Chief Police Officers Investigative Interviewing Group to police forces on statement validity analysis techniques for use in historical sex abuse investigations;

(8) what changes have been made to the guidelines for investigations into historical sex abuse, to take account of the establishment of the National Centre for Policing Excellence.

Photo of Hazel Blears Hazel Blears Minister of State (Home Office) (Policing, Security and Community Safety), Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

The Government's Response to the Home Affairs Committee's Report published in April 2003 indicated that the Senior Investigations Handbook already included guidance that the Senior Investigating Officer in any individual case should always record, as a matter of routine, justification for using the dip sampling or investigation method for making initial approaches to former residents of care homes. This serves as a guide and is not mandatory therefore neither the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) nor Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) would make a routine assessment as to compliance therein.

The Association of Chief Police Officers has established a multi-agency working group to review the SIO Handbook which was produced in 2002, the group includes officials form the Home Office. That review group has cognisance of all recommendations made by the Committee and in particular on-going concerns raised by my hon. Friend and will ensure amendments in line with police investigative policy. This will include adding further safeguards to the initial approach for evidence as considered by the group similarly for recordkeeping. I understand that the Chair of that group has now invited my hon. Friend to present her concerns to the group in person.

It is not clear to which Inter-agency strategic management group my hon. Friend refers.

The Home Department is not aware of the Gudjohnsson, SCAN or any other statement validity assessment tools for use in cases involving historical child abuse. The work of the ACPO SIO Manual review group is still in progress: it has not issued any guidance on the use of such tools in investigating complex cases of historical child abuse.

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