Number: B0645 Date Published: 19 January 2021 Version 2 – January 2021
1.0 Summary of Changes
This procedure has been updated on its yearly review to include additional paragraphs within section 3.2. This procedure was originally introduced in order to comply with national guidance on social distancing in response to the outbreak of COVID-19, however, it has now been assessed and is introduced as good practice and business as usual.
2.0 What this Procedure is about
The purpose of the procedure is to:
Provide guidance on how to assess whether the statement should be taken over the phone;
Confirm how the statement should be recorded.
Compliance with this procedure and any governing policy is mandatory.
3.0 Detail the Procedure
3.1 Assessing the Safety of Taking a Statement
Officers will on a case by case basis assess whether or not direct face to face contact with victims and witnesses is necessary and safe. Officers should refer to the Essex Police intranet page for the latest advice.
If an officer assesses that it is not safe, and an MG11 is required, these will be taken over the phone once approval is obtained from a Sergeant. The Sergeant will check if there are any evidential opportunities or any victim/witness issues that require attendance. This decision will be recorded on the investigation log.
3.2 Recording of MG11
The statement will be taken remotely with the victim/witness. This will usually be by telephone but can be via a video application such as MS Teams, should the victim or witness wish to use video.
The wishes of the victim or witness are paramount in determining the method by which a statement will be taken, and telephone or video should only be used with their explicit agreement.
In addition, the statement taker must ensure that the statutory obligations contained within the Code of Practice for Victims are fully completed with the victim and that all questions on MG11 (back) are fully addressed and all personal details that are on the MG11 (back) are also completed on all statements or directly recorded on Athena if the officer has access. If the Code of Practice cannot be complied with remotely then the officer must take the statement fact to face.
Where possible this should then be emailed to the victim/witness who will check and confirm by email that the content is correct. The victim/witness will insert a digital typed name in the signature box. No wet signatures will be obtained at this stage
If it is not possible to use email, the MG11 will be read to the victim/witness over the phone for them to confirm verbally that the statement is correct. Statements should be taken from victims face to face wherever possible. Telephone or video should only be used in exceptional circumstances to facilitate victim statement taking and this must be endorsed by a supervisor.
The rationale relating to any decision to take a statement remotely from a vulnerable victim should be recorded in the officer’s or supervisor’s pocket notebook or ePNB.
Where either of the above processes has occurred the MG11 will commence with a declaration amounting to:
“This statement has been taken over the telephone in order to prevent unnecessary face to face contact between witness and Police Officer / Police staff in line with national guidance on social distancing (COVID-19). Every effort has been made to confirm the identity of the witness who has had an opportunity to read / listen to the content and has confirmed via email / over the telephone that it is an accurate record of their account.”
4.0 Equality Impact Assessment
EIA – March 2020.
5.0 Risk Assessment
There are no specific risks associated with the implementation of this procedure.
There is nothing in law that states that a signature must be handwritten on a piece of paper. If there is any issue with the contents of the document or a dispute about the signature, witness(es) can be called to deal with the point.
The following have been consulted during the formulation of this document:
Crown Prosecution Service;
COVID 19 Silver Commander;
7.0 Monitoring and Review
This procedure will be reviewed by, or on behalf of, the Head of Criminal Justice Command in line with the government review of social distancing on COVID 19 which is currently on a 3-week basis to ensure that it remains relevant to the continually changing environment.
8.0 Governing Force policy. Related Force policies or related procedures
B 0600 Policy – Investigation of Crime
8.1 Data Security
Essex Police have measures in place to protect the security of your data in accordance with our Information Management Policy – W 1000 Policy – Information Management.
8.2 Retention & Disposal of Records
Essex Police will hold data in accordance with our Records Review, Retention & Disposal Policy – W 1012 Procedure/SOP - Records Review, Retention and Disposal.
We will only hold data for as long as necessary for the purposes for which we collected. Victims/public should be reminded that Essex Police take the protection of personal data seriously as described in the privacy notice.
9.0 Other source documents, e.g., legislation, Authorised Professional Practice (APP), Force forms, partnership agreements, (if applicable)