Police fail to tape interviews

| 17/07/2009

(CNS): According to information revealed during the recent Grand Court murder trial, there are as few as five officers who are trained to tape record interviews with witnesses in the RCIPS and most of them work in the Financial Crimes Unit. Routinely, all interviews conducted during police investigations, even those in the case of the most serious crimes, are hand written. The revelation came from Detective Sergeant Joseph Wright, who, when asked by defence counsel why he had not recorded his private meeting with the Crown’s principal witness, said that he was not trained to do taped interviews.

“There are less than five persons in the RCIPS that are trained to do that and I am not one of them,” he told the court this week.  The problem was confirmed by Chief Inspector Peter Kennett, who said that while the policy had been established and he had been trying for several years to introduce tape recording, the pressures on the Criminal investigation Department had made it impossible for him to organisae the training.

“We have agreed the policy but we have not been able to the do the training,” he lamented. “The training, which is a two-day session, has been booked for times over the last year, and every time we have been forced to cancel it because of murder cases.”

Kennett explained that the two-day course includes interview techniques and it is not just a matter of placing a tape in a recorder but the specific procedures that have to be followed. Kennett said that he routinely records his own interviews as he is trained to do so and that there were other officers attached to the FCU that were also trained. He confirmed, however, in the meantime officers not trained to tape interviews record them by hand and use contemporaneous notes.

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Comments (21)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    "The work of modern police is technical, difficult and requires training.  Support them in their brave and underpaid efforts."

    Don’t be a putz.  We’re talking about turning on a tape recorder, not doing a DNA or blood-splatter pattern analysis.  My 3-year-old can do it.  Maybe he took the course by correspondence while I was at work.

    As to supporting the officers, if they can’t take enough professional pride in their work to consider the fact that they are collecting evidence, that recording a statement results in better evidence than trying to write it down (a self-evident truth), and that as a consequence of that they should learn how a tape recorder works and teach themselves without waiting for a course (see the free course material now in this section), well, I say they are overpaid and lazy. 

    I can only think that they don’t want to be caught on tape themselves, removing all doubt as to the quality of their investigative andinterviewing skills.

    Oh, and if they can’t figure out a tape deck, what do you think they are going to do when they time does come for them to do a DNA or blood-splatter pattern analysis?  Exactly.


  2. man da corna says:

    The days of judgement have come to this little place When good officers were leaving and saying that there were serious problems with the entire system of RCIPs and other law enforcement areas.They were ridcule,targetted and their issues went unresolved and even suppressed by the certain elements including Politicians and senior government persons.

    This was left to until the very credibilty of  the judicial/law enforgement system is now in question. Their patch work of continually removing and installing new Commissioners of Police will not fix the problem either. some are crying everytime give us the chance. How many chances do you want? If you do not remedy the issue of the corrupting influence of certain "groups" in law enforcement and greater government this problem will surely continue to spread like a Virus sickening and killing its host effectiveness efficency and respect.

    One solutions lies in correcting the past injustices that have been done to good people and honest officers and seeking their advice and guidance and direction as to the way forward. The old game of  placing a new head to fix a old problem is equivalent to placing brand new nails in rotten wood, The house or structure still crumbling even a fool knows better. Who says the want to really fix the problem any way?

  3. Pale Rider says:

      The reason tape recorded interviews aren’t the norm is because instead of relying on sound investigation techniques and good intelligent policing, the majority of the police officers in the RCIP still rely on the old "intimidate them until they tell you what you want to hear" method of obtaining evidence….notice I said "majority"….not everyone in the RCIP has to rely on this method…you still have some ( a small minority) of officers who know how to professionally conduct a contemporaneous interview…but for too long the senior level has overlooked these primitive methods, because they produced "results"…never mind how many persons confessed to things they actually didn’t do just to stop the beating, threats, hunger, sleep deprivation, etc….hmmm, kinda sounds like our neighbor to the north doesn’t it???  However, to my knowledge,…no one has ever been water boarded here…..

     a previous poster stated that every ENGLISH police officer know show to conduct a tape recorded interview…and that is probably true, see in the UK you have what is known as PACE…the Police and Criminal Evidence Act.. which controls just about everything the police can do with regards to dealing with suspects and while, yes it does give the suspect a lot of rights, it also protects the individual police officer and the integrity of the police as a whole by ensuring that proper procedures are adhered to…why am I mentioning this, you may ask??  Because, it seems that in the 20 odd years since PACE has been around, there have been 6 police commisioners in the RCIP….5 of whom have been ENGLISH…and NOT ONE has introduced tape recorded interviews to the RCIP….now I agree that tape recorded interviews are absolutely vital in protecting the integrity of any police interview…things which are confessd by a suspect cannot be alleged to have been coerced under duress, as is almost always done later at trial…but if a layman like me can see this, how come the TOP BRASS, who have absolute operational control of the RCIP, couldn’t???   Again…makes you wonder what their motives were..


  4. Most Posters Are Pathetic says:

    I am getting so tired of posters who know nothing about police work or criminology posting on here as if they were experts.  The work of modern police is technical, difficult and requires training.  Support them in their brave and underpaid efforts.

    If there is a valid criticism of the Cayman criminal justice system it is the ridiculous number of criminal appeals from local residents from conviction or sentence.  Legal aid should only be available for truly viable appeals and attorneys should owe a duty to be parsimonious in certifying this.  Many of the appeals that clog up the Court system and waste public money are hopless attempts of the plainly guilty trying to get away with it (or improve their chances in upcoming elections!).

  5. Anonymous says:

    "Is this really to calibre of officer in the Caymans now???"

    Yup.  It’s a free-for-all for criminals.  Best increase your security measures.  It appears that Cayman wants to be the Bahamas when it grows up.

  6. Szocske says:

    The "procedures" referred to are (hopefully) established to ensure tamper-proof records, making them admissible as evidence in court. Personal Blackberries shouldn’t cut it.

    There was a guy commenting here the other day about lack of reporting on Cayman, and he is right. An article like this should be augmented with other details like the timeline of murders on Cayman in recent years and the number of police officers working on it to expose the validity of the excuse for not doing the trainings, a little blurb on due process and the relevant law excerpt. Good thing this site allows comments, so anyone could add these. Even I. Shame on me 🙂

  7. Tiger says:

    So apparently it’s not as easy as pressing ‘record’ on a tape machine, there’s more to it than that!

    There’s ‘procedures to follow’. So why don’t the powers that be give them written instructions and they can read up and learn it in their own time? Just a thought!

    Maybe they could also draw some pictures for those with a lower standard of comprehension?

    We shouldn’t make fun. Is this really to calibre of officer in the Caymans now???

    • copz says:

      EVERY SINGLE ENGLISH POLICE OFFICER IS TRAINED IN TAPE RECORDED INTERVIEWS..it is not difficult. It is accurate, evidentially sound, not open to interference, protects the rights of the suspect, protects the officer, and doesn’t rely on some vegetable writing it all down. It gives a much more accurate interpretation of the interview, when played in court.

      Yes Cayman, even pressing the ‘record button’ is covered in th etraining and it is rediculous that the ‘senior’ officers in Cayman are resistant to this procedure. Why? Because they say, ‘Too hard, too time consuming’, and it is to easy to expose c**p cops, too easy to prove poor supervision, too backward looking, too racist. Get over yourselves will you?

      What you will see is decent lawyers (Tomassi, Dixey, Moore, Stenning, Furniss) driving a coach and horses through the Police and Crown cases, as is beginning to happen right now. And what does that mean? Proven rapists child molesters, domestic abusers and murderers released back into this tiny community, like kids in a candy store, to prey on their choice of victims yet again. So the choice is either,- Crown messes up at court and scumbag goes free, or Crown manages to fluke a conviction, suspect goes to hotel at Northward, and then lawyer challenges unsafe conviction, and scumbag goes free having had a few months at the taxpayers expense.

      How about you stop hiring cheap, dishonest, bullying, corrupt, unskilled and arrogant security guards from an unsophisticated juristiction, and dressingthem up like police? This is not about how good the UK is, this is about getting rid of the sh*t in almost all levels of police and having the balls to do a proper job, of throwing out the junk.

      • Anonymous says:

        Isn’t it obvious?? The police here in the Cayman Islands is just as bad as the criminals, if  don like you for what ever reasos you are scr… buase from what see they are just too busy to go out there to investagate things so they will just pin something on and let the criminal walk just to make is think that they are on top of things. ok so they start cooking up stories to procted each other. But what takes the grand prize is for their boss to actually make excuses for them coming up with come cock-up story to justify what the police are doing. HARDWORKING COPS GET’S BURNEDOUT IN COURT, CAN’T RECORD AN INVERVIEW BECAUSE THEY  DON’T KNOW HOW TO TURN ON A TAPE RECORDER, TOO BUSY TO TAKE A TWO DAYS TRIANING THAT IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT PARTOF THEIR JOBS.

        I have not seen anything like this in my life where the police are making excise If this is what we have as our protectors? God helps us all.


      • Pale Rider says:

        "How about you stop hiring cheap, dishonest, bullying, corrupt, unskilled and arrogant security guards from an unsophisticated juristiction, and dressing them up like police?"


        Bravo!!   Copz, you have hit the nail on the head….most of these guys never learned real police investigative techniques, because where they come from, due process is a bullet in the back, while the suspect was "resisting arrest"…..

        Like the old lady said, "Tha wa ya get!!"



  8. Anonymous says:

    Please add to the instruction namual for interview:





  9. I own a dog says:

    We can always check with the Department of Employment Relations to see if they have anybody registered than can operate a tape recorder.  Anybody know the cost of a work-permit for that job, I checked immigrations site but "tape recording operators is not listed. I’m sure there is at least one suitable Caymanian capable of operating the thing, I however wouldn’t suggest anyone to young, as we don’ want the information on facebook or being twitted, but in hindsight that might be a good idea!  FOI here we come.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Here is the instruction manual:

    1. Catch a suspect and take them to the interview room.
    2. Have a tape recorder there. 
    3. Plug it in (separate instructions are available).
    4. Insert a tape.
    5. Push "Play" and "Record" at the same time.  Check that the little wheels on the tape are going around.
    6. Ask the suspect a question.
    7. Wait for the answer.
    8. Repeat 6 and 7 as needed.
    9. If the tape recorder makes a "Click" sound before you are done, insert a fresh tape and repeat steps 5 through 7.
    10. When the interview is over, press "Stop" and keep tape as evidence.

    I would ask for payment for this intensive training course, but I must remain "Anonymous" since I’ve probably just violated the Labour Law by doing someone’s job without the appropriate work permit.


    • Anonymous says:

      BRILLIANT, rather than violate Labour Law please could the RCIP cut and paste the directions. It could save a lot of embarrassing cross examinations in the future. Really, only 5 Officers being unable to operate tape machines defies belief. How does anyone get convicted in the Cayman Islands?

  11. Lordy, lordy says:

    Shame on you CNS!

    " every time we have been forced to cancel it because of murder cases.” You let them get away with this spin! Are there THAT many murders in Cayman that no police could be spared to get training?

    CNS: Peter Kennett was making the comments as a witness in court.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Here is a suggestion, ask the Chief to buy Blackberry for ALL cops, this way they can record people at will.

    Doesn’t the police have special rooms that are rigged with secret cameras and microphones or was this cop talking to him in the Bathroom??

    How can you have a suspect for murder and not record his conversations..WOW even Sherlock Holmes would have recorded if he had the Blackberry….I smell coverup!!!

    Bye, dont forget to get those blackberry’s, stupid cops….

  13. Anonymous says:

    How hard could it be to flip on a tape recorder?  I mean, at least if it was recorded it would show the competence or incompetence of the officer, and therefore help him/her receive the proper training.  This is just another way that the police don’t have to be accountable to anyone.

  14. I own a dog says:

    Am i missing something here …. "Kennett explained that the two-day course includes interview techniques and it is not just a matter of placing a tape in a recorder but the specific procedures that have to be followed…"  so are the officers that are apparently ‘writing’ these statments down by hand trained in interviewing techniques????  I personally would rather have a tape recorded interview that expect to have someone write it down and hope they get it right.

  15. Tiger says:

    Un-ber-lieveable! This is a police officers most basic part of their training!

  16. Anonymous says:


  17. Anonymous says:

     What happen to Strategic Overviews