The information provided here is intended to assist Magistrates' Court, legal practitioners, victims and support services in dealing with digitally recorded evidence-in-chief (DREC) as part of the Victoria Police family violence body worn camera (BWC) trial. The trial commenced in October 2018.
DREC is a victim statement that is recorded by police using a police-issued BWC.
The DREC may replace all, or part of, a formal written statement and will be played in court as the victim’s evidence-in-chief in a proceeding for a family violence
Victims must be over the age of 18, not appear to have a cognitive impairment and provide informed consent before a Victoria Police member can take a DREC.
A DREC cannot be taken where the accused person was under 18 years at the time of the alleged incident.
Only police members who have completed the family violence body worn camera training will be permitted to capture DREC from victims of family violence.
The trial is taking place at Epping and Ballarat, Ballarat North and Ballarat West police stations and is currently limited to these court locations:
- Ballarat Magistrates’ Court
- Heidelberg Magistrates’ Court
for summary matters.
- Melbourne Magistrates’ Court
- Ballarat Magistrates’ Court
for committal proceedings, in advance of any trial in the County or Supreme Court.
A DREC is evidence-in-chief from a victim of family violence.
If used as evidence-in-chief, the DREC will not be tendered into evidence. The DREC may, however, be provided to the court after the hearing to assist in the
administration of justice.
If necessary, the DREC will be edited/redacted by the brief authoriser and/or the police prosecutor prior to the court proceeding in line with legislation. If further
editing is requested by the court this will need to be done at a police station.
Police prosecutors will take all technical equipment required to play a DREC in court including a laptop and relevant cables to connect to the court system.
As defined by legislation, a transcript of the DREC will only be provided in circumstances where:
there is a reasonably foreseeable risk that if supplied with an audio DREC, the accused would illegally supply or publish the audio DREC;
the particular circumstances of the accused mean that a transcript is required (e.g. they are hearing impaired);
1. the matter is to be heard in the County Court or Supreme Court jurisdictions; or
2. a court orders that a DREC be transcribed.
A DREC may be played in an FVIO proceeding. The DREC, however, will mainly focus on capturing details of the incident at the time. Police may need to capture a victim’s history of family violence in additional written statements, where required.
The interviewing model for taking a DREC is designed so that the recording is as succinct as possible. Victoria Police members are instructed to aim for 15 minutes or
less in duration. However, the length of a DREC will vary from case to case.
The use of DREC represents a change to practice for legal practitioners representing either the victim or the accused who usually receive a written statement from the victim as part of the brief of evidence. The process for providing briefs of evidence and FVIO applications will not be affected. A DREC may be used for summary matters, indictable matters and in a FVIO proceeding.
An accused will be served with an audio only copy of the DREC or in some circumstances only a transcript (see page 3). The accused will be provided with an opportunity to view the video DREC under supervision at the time of the police interview, at a later date arranged with the police informant or through their legal representation. An accused may choose not to view the DREC. A legal practitioner can show their client the video DREC at any time however it is an offence to provide a DREC in a prohibited form to an accused person. There are other offences which apply to possessing, copying, supplying and publishing a DREC.
A DREC should be stored and managed by legal practitioners in accordance with existing legal and professional obligations. In accordance with Section 387L of the Criminal Procedure Act 2009, it is an offence for DREC footage to be published, copied or supplied to another person except as permitted by the legislation.
Yes, if the DREC is to be used as evidence-in-chief you will be required to attest to the truthfulness of the contents of the statement in court and be available for crossexamination and re-examination. If you do not attend court, the DREC may still be used as a prior statement according to the normal rules of evidence.
You may make an application in writing to request that the DREC not be used in the course of an investigation of a family violence incident or in a subsequent prosecution. If an application is made, a police member will be required to assess your request alongside the safety risks you may face if the DREC is not used in evidence. The DREC may still be used if it is believed that you are at greater risk if a prosecution does not occur. You will be notified of the outcome of your request by the police informant. Once the DREC is made, it is subject to the normal rules of evidence disclosure and may have to be disclosed to the accused and/or their legal representative.
You can share the audio copy of their DREC with another person, such as a support worker. However, you must not publish the DREC. The person with whom the you share your DREC with can only supply the DREC to another person or copy or publish the DREC in limited circumstances that are set out in section 387L of the Criminal Procedure Act 2009. A support worker is generally not permitted to copy, publish or supply the DREC to another person.
Yes, you will receive an audio copy of the DREC on request to Victoria Police. You may also request to view your video DREC. Consideration will be given to your welfare and the potential impacts of providing you with access to the DREC.
An accused will be provided with an opportunity to view the video DREC under supervision at the time of the police interview, at a later date arranged with the police informant or with their legal practitioner. An accused may choose not to view the DREC. An accused person will not be shown content that may endanger your safety. In most circumstances, an accused will be given an audio only copy of the DREC. If Victoria Police believes that providing an audio copy presents a risk that the accused will improperly share it, the accused will be provided with a transcript.
Victims may make an application in writing to request that the DREC not be used in the course of an investigation of a family violence incident or in a subsequent prosecution. If an application is made, a police member will be required to assess the victim’s wishes alongside the safety risks they may face if the DREC is not used in evidence. The DREC may still be used if it is believed that the victim is at greater risk if a prosecution does not occur. The victim will be notified of the outcome of their request by the police informant. Once the DREC is made, it is subject to the normal rules of evidence disclosure and may have to be disclosed to the accused and/or their legal representative.
The DREC can be used in civil proceedings for an FVIO. The DREC, however, will focus primarily on the most recent incident. As such, the victim may be required to provide further details to police at a later date to support an FVIO application. This will be taken as a written statement
Reviewed 18 March 2021