The confession of a suspect obtained in a police evidentiary interview comprises the key piece of evidence in almost every criminal case in Australian courtrooms. It is crucial to the successful prosecution of a defendant that the confession is voluntary and not a product of threats or physical violence and that any written confession is a true and accurate record of the suspect’s words during the interview. In Australia, as in many parts of the world using similar interview procedures, the introduction of tape-recorded police interviews has eliminated some of the more obvious problems associated with ensuring that all these criteria are met. Contested police statements alleging a confession by the suspect can now be checked against the audio tape of the interview, which is made in accordance with guidelines designed to maximise the integrity of the recording itself.
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