What is PACE Transcription?
Why the cassette tape?
PACE Transcription stands for Police and Criminal Evidence. The police and councils record confidential and important interviews onto standard cassette tapes – yes they still use standard C90 cassette tapes! There are a few reasons why the system hasn’t gone digital, the police like to have a hard copy of the interview that has taken place, even if it isn’t as crystal clear as a digital file would be. They will have a master copy and duplicates for submission at Court, to be disclosed to the defence or for sending for transcription. The tapes are sealed in front of the defendant and solicitor (if present). I believe the police are of the opinion that it is a very secure system, it works well, it has worked well for years so why change it? The cost to change to digital is also a factor as, like many public sector organisations, they only have a certain budget. There would also need to be some extra software implementation if they went digital to ensure the digital recording is safe.
Will they phase it out?
However, in years to come, I can see tapes being phased out. Even now they are not so readily available in stores as they would have been fifteen years ago, so I guess it will be transferred to digital in the future, but not without some serious thought first.
There are 43 police forces in England and Wales which means millions of interviews are being recorded onto tape. Some police forces are piloting the digital system but 90% of the interviews are recorded onto tape. Perhaps they should do both? Newer police stations are more likely to transfer to digital sooner than the older stations, meaning tapes will still be used for years to come yet!
They use a time code which is integrated into the tape which is a lady which sounds a bit like this; “one minute ten seconds, one minute fifteen seconds, one minute twenty seconds, one minute twenty-five seconds” and so on. This can be very annoying for the transcriptionist and can over power what is being said in the interview. Therefore any transcription company who is supply PACE transcription services must have the facility and equipment to be able to turn off this time code in order that you receive an accurate transcript. This is done on a special PACE transcription machine.
How to deal with sensitive tapes
Some of the tapes can be quite distressing for the transcriptionist, especially if the matter is of a sensitive nature such as child abuse, domestic violence etc. As with any transcription job, our job is to put on the headphones, transcribe what we hear, without letting our emotions or opinions come into play or to think too deeply about the subject. Can be easier said than done but that is our job, just like the case of a barrister or solicitor. I would also like to say that although sometimes the cases can sometimes be quite upsetting, they are also very interesting and we do very much enjoy transcribing the police tapes.
We also understand the tapes are very confidential and wish to ensure that all evidence of the transcript is deleted once the client is happy with the completed transcript. We are registered with the Data Protection Act and our transcriptionists are bound by our Confidentiality Agreement ensuring no information is distributed to any third party whatsoever. The tapes can either be returned to you or destroyed, most clients wanting them returned for filing.
We can also supply you with an MP3 file of the interview if you wish.
Please contact us if you have a PACE tape or video that you need a transcript of. We will be more than happy to help.