Improving the Effectiveness of Child Abuse Investigations

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In February 2012, evidential recording equipment manufactured by David Horn Communications Ltd was an essential element of a training course given to 12 psychologists from the provinces of Tucuman, Jujuy and Formosa in north-west Argentina. The training course was part of an ongoing collaboration between a UK Charity, the Child Protection Development Trust (CPDT), established to assist developing countries to improve the effectiveness of child abuse allegations and prosecutions, and a civil rights non-government organisation, Asociación por los Derechos Civiles (ADC) based in Buenos Aires.

The CPDT and the ADC have been working with a range of agencies in provinces in the north-western Argentina. The principal agencies have been the police, the prosecutors, the provincial courts, medical practitioners and other organisations involved in the protection of children. The primary objective of this work has been to improve the effectiveness of investigation and prosecution of allegations of child sexual abuse through the introduction of a multi-agency response to these allegations. A multi-agency protocol has been written and introduced to enable agreed guidelines to be followed when such cases are reported to any of the agencies. One of the central priorities in responding to allegations of sexual abuse is to obtain as much information as possible from the alleged child victim and any other child witnesses to enable the perpetrator to be identified and prosecuted. The introduction of video recorded interviews with children combined with the necessary training for the interviewers was therefore a priority in the process.

In February 2012, two child protection specialist from the UK travelled to Tucuman in Argentina to deliver a two-week training course to 12 child psychologist who are designated by the legal authorities in the provinces of Tucuman, Jujuy and Formosa to undertake evidential interviews with children. To enable this training to be effective and to provide the province of Tucuman with professional evidential video recording equipment, the two specialists took with them a MultiStream portable evidential recorder manufactured by David Horn Communications Ltd. The equipment had been specially modified to enable it to operate both as a static recorder in a specially designed interview room, but also be taken to other locations in the province and operated in the portable mode. This was an essential modification for this equipment to be used most effectively because of the significant geographical distances between sparsely populated areas in provinces in the north-west of Argentina. It is preferable for the equipment to travel to the child victim rather than requiring the child victim to travel several hundred kilometres to be interviewed, thereby adding to his or her trauma.

Commenting on the experience in Tucuman, Tony Butler one of the child protection specialists and a trustee of the CPDT said, ”The goal of our work in Argentina is to enable child protection practitioners to achieve the standards of internationally recognised good practice.  This not only relates to the training and personal competence of the interviewers but also the quality of the evidential video recorders.  The MultiStream recorder was ideal to meet their needs because it can be used at a fixed location and also in its portable application, take large distances to the child victim.  We were very grateful for the technical support provided by David Horn Communication Ltd, who listened to our specific requirements and modified the equipment to meet the needs of our partners in Argentina.”

Following the training, the equipment was donated by the CPDT to the province of Tucuman. On their return to the province of Jujuy, the psychologists made recommendations to their judges that they should purchase identical video recording equipment. In 2013, two MultiStream recorders were delivered to the province. In November 2013, one of the child protection specialist is returning to Argentina to continue this work and a meeting has been arranged with the judge of the federal court in Tucuman to explore the possibility of them purchasing similar evidential recording equipment from David Horn Communications Ltd.

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