Why Children’s Advocacy Centers Should Record Their Forensic Interviews

forensic interview recording

Though CaseCracker got its start by creating effective, user-friendly interview room recording systems for law enforcement agencies, our versatile solutions can serve a variety of needs in a number of industries, like healthcare, university research, and Children’s Advocacy Centers (CACs). These centers provide a neutral, child-friendly environment in which to conduct forensic interviews with juvenile victims of sexual abuse and other violent crime. Though there may be many people involved, cases are often sensitive in nature and therefore require a limit on the number of interviews and interviewers to reduce the traumatic impact on the child. CACs naturally reduce these numbers and the implementation of forensic interview recording equipment at a center allows for more advocate access without placing an extra burden on the victim.

Forensic interviews performed at CACs are conducted by specialists or trained criminal investigators familiar with the technique. They ask non-leading questions to elicit information in age- and developmentally-appropriate ways, and they do so in child-friendly places free from stigma (like a police station) or intimidation (such as the family home, where an offender or their supporters may be present). These forensic interviews and the overall experience for victims and their families tend to be much more thorough and positive. Children are able to give their account in their own words and are limited to sharing and reliving a traumatic experience to one adult.

Recording these interviews means greater overall efficiency and effectiveness—key elements of a positive outcome for both victims and law enforcement. The more a child has to repeat their account, the greater the risk to a case. Children may fear that they will not be helped or believed, that they got their answers “wrong” during earlier interviews and must change them, or recant their statements entirely simply to get the questioning to stop. Recording these interviews ensures that an accurate, effective statement is given the first time and allows for easy access and sharing with others involved in the case.

Clients such as Frederick County CAC in Maryland, CAC of Covina in California, and Children’s Hospital of WI CAC in Sojourner, Wisconsin use CaseCracker forensic interview recording equipment at their centers because they know they’re effective and reliable. With features such as remote viewing and pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras, our systems allow advocates to capture the high-quality, dynamic evidence needed to protect their victims and help them get justice.

Just as recorded confessions and witness testimony make for more effective criminal cases involving adults, so do recorded statements in juvenile cases. Jurors and others can witness for themselves that an interview was performed correctly and yielded truthful testimony. And as anyone who has worked a criminal case knows, a victim’s story is at its most powerful straight from the source—and key to securing the desired outcome in court.

Do you work for a CAC and are interested in recording your forensic interviews? Check out our blog post on how other organizations have secured funding to implement an interview recording system from CaseCracker.