Interview skills of Nottinghamshire Police receives praise

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Nottinghamshire Police has been commended for its work in the handling of young victims and witnesses.

The praise came in a report into the Experience of Young Victims and Witnesses in the Criminal Justice System, following a joint inspection by Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI) and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) of five criminal justice system areas of the United Kingdom.

The Force was among a number of Nottinghamshire-based services highlighted for excellent and innovative practices in managing young victims and witnesses of crime.

The report deemed the Force’s training of all CID officers in video interviewing as part of their detective training course, and their subsequent support of their uniformed colleagues when video interviews were required, as good practice and something to be emulated by other forces.

Force crime trainer DS Keith Spink said: “I particularly welcome this report as it recognises the innovative work of the Nottinghamshire Police Crime Training Team in the area of Visually Recorded Interview training. This training, although not a national requirement within Detective training, is included by the Crime Training Team as an integral tool in support of this high-risk area of our work.

“It is achieved through formal classroom input involving members of our community who assist with carefully managed role-play scenarios.

“The Crime Training Team then follows-up this formal training on division with support for Trainee Investigators and their tutors during ‘live’ interview assessment sesions. This link from classroom through to workplace delivery ensures that our Trainee Investigators have been provided with the best possible start and enables them to continue to achieve high standards in this difficult area of work.”

According to the report, in a 12-month period around 33,000 children and young adults under the age of 18 will be involved in giving evidence in a criminal trial.

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Other Nottinghamshire services applauded by the team included Nottingham’s Victim Information Project (VIP), which enables Nottinghamshire Police’s Child Abuse Investigation Unit to refer victims of child abuse and neglect for an early psychosocial needs assessment and subsequent support.

Nottingham’s Young Witness Service was also congratulated for adding value to the process, with volunteers and staff trained by Nottinghamshire Victim Support Service.

Dru Sharpling, of the HMIC, said: “The recommendations and examples of good practice in this report capture the best of the system and aim to promote its consistent delivery.

“It is key to the criminal justice system that young people have the confidence to report a crime and are then supported throughout the process of appearing as witnesses.”

In 2009 Her Majesty’s Chief Inspectors of the Crown Prosecution Service, Constabulary and Court Administration published a report into the experiences of victims and witnesses in the criminal justice system.

It identified and highlighted good practice and also set out 19 recommendations and identified 25 further aspects for improvement, designed at improving the service that victims and witnesses receive.

While this week’s follow up report highlighted some good practice since the 2009 findings, the inspection team found only limited progress had been made in addressing the majority of the previous Report’s recommendations and highlighted several areas of concern.

Areas for improvement directly relating to police included ensuring young people were given the option to provide a written or video statement, to avoid subsequent pressure to attend court and give evidence in person.

Concern was also been expressed about Witness Care Units experiencing problems receiving timely and accurate information from police, adding to the difficulty of providing a quality service.