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Reference:

On the possibilities of introducing transcription into the practice of interrogation at the stage of preliminary investigation of crimes

Sotnikov Konstantin Ivanovich

ORCID: 0000-0002-2279-1355

Doctor of Law

Associate Professor, Department of Criminology, St. Petersburg University of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia

198206, Russia, Saint Petersburg, Pilyutov Pilot str., 1

sotnikovik@mail.ru

DOI:

10.25136/2409-7136.2023.11.68738

EDN:

QZFFFQ

Received:

18-10-2023


Published:

26-11-2023


Abstract: The subject of the study is the modern forensic investigative practice of recording the testimony of interrogated persons at the preliminary investigation, which indicates a tendency to increase the volume of interrogation protocols being compiled. The object of the study is the regularities of the procedure for recording the testimony of the interrogated persons. It is noted that the preparation of the interrogation protocol is the most time-consuming final stage of this investigative action. Analysis of scientific publications in recent years shows that forensic scientists focus on the tactics and psychology of interrogation. As part of the forensic tactics of interrogation, the issues of the specifics of the use of additional means of fixation in the form of audio-video recordings and requirements for the content of the interrogation protocol are also considered. The existing procedure for recording the testimony of interrogated persons in the typewriter mode remains acute. The novelty of the research lies in the author's proposal to introduce modern computer technologies and artificial intelligence into the practice of drawing up interrogation protocols that allow converting oral speech into text. We are talking about automatic speech recognition and the conversion of a speech signal into digital information in the form of text (transcription of oral speech). Currently, transcription is widely used in various spheres of human activity. It is noted that it is permissible to use transcription technology from the standpoint of criminal procedural regulation of interrogation and confrontation.The use of transcription means will allow the investigator to focus on communicating with the interrogated person, achieve psychological contact, track testimony, use tactical techniques, etc. Modern software allows the introduction of the specified technology of recording the testimony of interrogated persons into the practice of interrogation.


Keywords:

neuro-linguistic, programming, recording, indications, proof, protocol, rationalization, speech, clerical work, converter

This article is automatically translated. You can find original text of the article here.

 

 

Interrogation refers to the most common investigative action, respectively, is a traditional and generally recognized source of evidence. It is no coincidence that Article 74 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Russian Federation primarily includes the testimony of suspects, accused, victims, witnesses and other participants in the trial. 

The centuries-old history of this investigative action testifies to the difficulties of the formation of interrogation tactics, the methods and methods used to conduct it and evaluate the testimony of the interrogated persons. With the development of society, legislation changed, the interrogation procedure acquired a civilized and humane character. The interrogation process was improved, additional requirements were introduced for the interrogation of witnesses, victims, suspects, accused, minors.

The science of criminology and practice have developed tactical interrogation techniques at the stage of preliminary investigation and in court session. Questions are discussed about the admissibility of using hypnosis, polygraph, "truth serum" during interrogation, etc. Interrogation is introduced into the practice of investigation in the form of a cognitive interview of eyewitness witnesses and victims aimed at mentally restoring the memory of the crime event [1, 24 p.],[2, p. 25-27],[3, p. 64-68] and others .

 In recent years, the possibility of using neuro-linguistic programming during interrogation has been discussed at the theoretical level, the essence of which is reduced to modeling human behavior in various situations using linguistic techniques and applied psychology [4, pp. 134-140],[5, pp. 38-43],[6, pp. 98-101], etc.

Representatives of criminal procedure law consider the specifics of the legislative regulation of the interrogation procedure at various stages of criminal proceedings and the specifics of the status of the interrogated person. There is a surge of scientific interest in connection with the legislative admission of interrogation, confrontation, identification through the use of video conferencing systems [7, pp. 98-102],[8, pp. 134-139], etc.

Analysis of scientific publications in recent years shows that forensic scientists focus on the tactics and psychology of interrogation. Criminalistic interrogation tactics from the standpoint of psychology offers techniques and methods of conducting this investigative action, the main purpose of which is to obtain objective information about the event of a crime. Within the framework of the forensic tactics of interrogation, the issues of the specifics of the use of additional means of fixation in the form of audio-video recordings and the requirements for the content of the interrogation protocol are partially considered.

The main means of recording the testimony of the interrogated person is a protocol, the procedure for compiling which is provided for by the norms of the Criminal Procedure Code of the Russian Federation.  It should be noted that the preparation of the interrogation protocol (recording of testimony) is the most time-consuming final stage of this investigative action. The interrogation protocol is a procedural document in which, according to Article 190 of the Criminal Procedure Code of the Russian Federation, if possible, the testimony of the interrogated person is recorded verbatim. Readings can be recorded by means of a manuscript and typescript. The handwritten version of the protocol is more difficult to perceive when reading, which affects the overall assessment of the interrogation. In recent years, most often the readings are recorded using computer technology. The use of a computer as a typewriter to a certain extent facilitated the preparation of the interrogation protocol, its further use for the preparation of the indictment and other documents.

The modern practice of investigating crimes indicates a tendency to increase the volume of interrogation protocols being compiled. This situation is explained by the complication of the crimes under investigation, the increased requirements for compliance with the formal provisions of the criminal procedure law. Significant impact  the emerging practice is influenced by modern computer technologies that allow the use of electronic templates of interrogation protocols. The simplicity of correcting the text and copying it, the ability to print out ready-made protocols on printers, scanning and converting the test into digital form attracts.

However, the procedure for recording the testimony of the interrogated persons remains acute precisely from the point of view of the complexity of drawing up the interrogation protocol. The time spent on drawing up multi-page interrogation protocols negatively affects the tactics of the investigator's communication with the interrogated persons. Criminologists and practitioners have long drawn attention to the need to simplify and speed up the recording of the testimony of the interrogated person. This problem is partly solved at the level of improving interrogation tactics, introducing the scientific organization of the investigator's work into the practice of investigation. Within the framework of the NOTES, the issues of increasing labor productivity, creating an automated workplace for an inquirer and investigator are considered, but the problem of introducing modern technologies into the practice of drawing up protocols is bypassed [9, p.32].

At the level of the scientific organization of the investigator's work, it was proposed to introduce specially trained secretaries-typists in the investigative units, who, being in a separate office, would record the testimony of the interrogated person and make up a typewritten interrogation protocol. This idea has not been implemented beyond the experiment. The difficulties consisted, first of all, in the fact that only the investigator at the end of the interrogation could determine the scope and relevance of the information to be included in the interrogation protocol. The creation of such offices was complicated by the training of typist secretaries, additional expenses for their maintenance and other organizational difficulties. The mastery of computer logging tools by investigators finally removed this idea from the agenda.

A certain reserve for improving the efficiency of the investigator's work when drawing up interrogation protocols could be the transition of the investigation of crimes in the form of electronic criminal cases, i.e. the recording of all investigative actions and the preparation of procedural and other documents using digital technologies. Optimization of criminal proceedings is designed to ensure the protection of the rights and legitimate interests of participants in criminal proceedings, as well as the protection of information stored in the case materials. First of all, electronic legal proceedings presuppose a complete rejection of paper records management.  [10, pp. 37-41],[11, pp. 81-90],[12, pp. 1172-1176], etc.

However, this does not solve the problem of rationalizing the investigator's activities. In our opinion, with the existing approaches, using computers as a typewriter, even if it is more advanced, requires significant costs and efforts to compile an interrogation protocol.  The way out of this situation is seen in the introduction of modern computer technologies and artificial intelligence into the practice of drawing up interrogation protocols, which allow converting oral speech into text. We are talking about automatic speech recognition and the conversion of a speech signal into digital information (transcription of oral speech). Transcription refers to the translation of something into another form (borrowed from it. transcribieren, which comes from lat. transcribe - rewrite).

Currently, transcription is widely used in various spheres of human activity. In particular, in online learning, transcription-based software allows you to accompany video content with text, which facilitates the process of perception of educational material.  News information resources, the video blogosphere widely use the transcription of video files into texts for publishing news.  In medicine, transcription is used for automated maintenance of medical records. Speech recognition technology significantly reduces the need for manual input of the test and frees the employee to perform other tasks.

Audio to Text Converter is a tool that can convert audio files into texts, record spoken speech and create its text at the same time. The process of transcription involves the perception of audio content and its subsequent transformation into text, while ensuring high verbatim oral speech.  It is important to note that recorded audio and video files can act as a digital way of storing information.

Modern speech recognition programs can be installed on a mobile device (smartphone) or computer. These programs can also be used on online services.  They allow you to use dictation on a mobile phone or computer when the application transforms speech into text.  At the moment, dozens of computer programs for speech recognition have been created.  Simple and professional software is used to decrypt audio into text. They have a relatively simple interface, provide a high level of verbatim transcription [13, pp. 230-232],[14, pp. 25-30], etc.

The author experimentally, having no experience, using a free audio converter and an online editor, within a few minutes converted the video file into text, which almost did not require additional editing and text processing. The above proves that technically transcription can be successfully used to record the testimony of the interrogated persons. A modern investigator will easily master the skills of transcription. Installation of applications, additional equipment (microphone, voice recorder, video recorder) will not require serious financial investments). 

Let's consider the issues of the admissibility of transcription from the standpoint of the criminal procedural regulation of interrogation and confrontation. According to paragraph 6 of Article 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code of the Russian Federation, technical means and methods of detecting, fixing and removing traces of a crime and material evidence may be used in the course of investigative actions. Before starting an investigative action, the investigator warns the persons participating in the investigative action about the use of technical means. The general rules for conducting investigative actions allow the use of any, scientifically based and not violating the rights of citizens, technical means and methods of fixing traces of a crime.

In accordance with the general rules of interrogation, at the initiative of the investigator or at the request of the interrogated person, photographing, audio and (or) video recording, filming may be carried out during the interrogation, the materials of which are stored in the criminal case and sealed after the preliminary investigation (Article 189 of the Criminal Procedure Code of the Russian Federation).

Paragraph 4 of Article 190 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Russian Federation, which regulates the rules for drawing up an interrogation protocol, states that if photographing, audio and (or) video recording, filming were carried out during the interrogation, then the protocol must also contain a record of photographing, audio and (or) video recording, filming, information about technical means, statements the interrogated person about taking photographs, audio and (or) video recordings, filming.

In our case, audio and/or video recording is used, which is subsequently converted into text. At the same time, several options are possible. In the first case, the audio-video recording is subsequently attached to the interrogation protocol as an additional means of fixation. In the second case, when recording in the dictaphone mode, the investigator does not aim to attach an audio recording to the interrogation protocol, it is only used to convert oral speech into text.  In the third case, transcription is performed directly from the microphone, bypassing sound recording to a technical device (computer).

Analyzing the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Russian Federation, it can be argued that the law allows the use of transcription in combination with the creation of audio-video recordings as an additional means of fixation. Transcription of oral speech in microphone-only mode is allowed as a technical means that allows you to quickly and economically draw up an interrogation protocol. It is obvious that the investigator must critically evaluate the content of the testimony, edit the text, since the speech of the interrogated person does not always adequately convey the true meaning of the testimony. Clarifying, additional and control questions should serve for the correction of oral speech. In addition, when transcribing oral speech, there may be programmatic inaccuracies in the conversion of words and sentences that will require correction. Editing the finished text will not require significant time compared to the traditional writing of the interrogation protocol, especially in cases of drafting a multi-page document.

Some tactical remarks. In practice, investigators use different approaches to the order and sequence of interrogation and protocol preparation. In simple cases, with a small amount of testimony, in a conflict-free situation, the investigator listens to the interrogated person and, after clarifying questions, proceeds to draw up an interrogation protocol. If it is necessary to record a significant amount of testimony and, especially, in cases of counteraction, the investigator listens to the interrogated person on a certain fact, records the testimony, then listens to the interrogated person on another fact, asks clarifying questions and then records these testimony. Often, investigators begin to draw up a protocol from the beginning of the interrogation, interrupt the witness, the victim, the accused, and then proceed to recording testimony. In such cases, the investigator is almost deprived of the opportunity to observe the interrogated person, to control the course of the investigative action. The use of transcription means will allow the investigator to focus on communicating with the interrogated person, achieve psychological contact, track testimony, use tactical techniques, etc.

In this regard, criminology faces the task of further introducing information technologies and artificial intelligence into the practice of investigation. Transcription, as a modern way of converting oral speech into text, will contribute to the completeness and objectivity of recorded testimony, speed up the process of drawing up a protocol, and more effective use of interrogation tactics.

The use of transcription will require appropriate correction of forensic tactics. The training programs on forensic interrogation tactics should include practical exercises on the use of software products for converting oral speech into text. To a large extent, their introduction into the interrogation procedure depends on practical employees, their orientation towards improving the efficiency of crime investigation.  

 

 

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Peer Review

Peer reviewers' evaluations remain confidential and are not disclosed to the public. Only external reviews, authorized for publication by the article's author(s), are made public. Typically, these final reviews are conducted after the manuscript's revision. Adhering to our double-blind review policy, the reviewer's identity is kept confidential.
The list of publisher reviewers can be found here.

The subject of the research in the article submitted for review is, as its name implies, the problem of introducing transcription into the practice of interrogation at the stage of preliminary investigation of crimes. The stated boundaries of the study are fully respected by the author. The methodology of the research is not disclosed in the text of the article, but it is obvious that the scientists used universal dialectical, logical, descriptive, hermeneutic, historical, formal and legal research methods. The relevance of the research topic chosen by the author is undeniable and justified by him in sufficient detail: "The modern practice of investigating crimes indicates a tendency to increase the volume of interrogation protocols being compiled. This situation is explained by the complication of the crimes under investigation, the increased requirements for compliance with the formal provisions of the criminal procedure law. Modern computer technologies, which allow the use of electronic templates of interrogation protocols, have a significant impact on the emerging practice. The simplicity of correcting text and copying it, the ability to print out ready-made protocols on printers, scanning and converting the test into digital form attracts. However, the procedure for recording the testimony of the interrogated persons remains acute precisely from the point of view of the complexity of drawing up the interrogation protocol. The time spent on compiling multi-page interrogation protocols has a negative effect on the tactics of the investigator's communication with the interrogated persons. Criminologists and practitioners have long drawn attention to the need to simplify and speed up the recording of the testimony of the interrogated person. This problem is partly solved at the level of improving interrogation tactics, introducing the scientific organization of the investigator's work into the practice of investigation. Within the framework of the NOTES, issues of increasing labor productivity, creating an automated workplace for an inquirer and investigator are considered, but the problem of introducing modern technologies into the practice of drawing up protocols is bypassed [9, p.32]." The scientific novelty of the work is manifested in a number of the author's proposals of direct practical importance: "In our opinion, with existing approaches, using computers as a typewriter, even if it is more advanced, requires significant costs and efforts to compile an interrogation protocol. The way out of this situation is seen in the introduction of modern computer technologies and artificial intelligence into the practice of drawing up interrogation protocols, which allow converting oral speech into text. We are talking about automatic speech recognition and conversion of a speech signal into digital information (transcription of oral speech)"; "The author experimentally, having no experience, using a free audio converter and an online editor, converted a video file into text within a few minutes, which almost did not require additional editing and text processing. The above proves that technically transcription can be successfully used to record the testimony of the interrogated persons. A modern investigator will easily master the skills of transcription. Installing applications, additional equipment (microphone, dictaphone, video recorder) will not require serious financial investments)"; "Analyzing the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Russian Federation, it can be argued that the law allows the use of transcription in conjunction with the creation of audio-video recordings as an additional means of fixation. Transcription of oral speech in microphone-only mode is allowed as a technical tool that allows you to quickly and economically draw up an interrogation protocol. Obviously, the investigator must critically evaluate the content of the testimony, edit the text, since the speech of the interrogated person does not always adequately convey the true meaning of the testimony. Clarifying, additional and control questions should be used to correct oral speech. In addition, when transcribing oral speech, there may be programmatic inaccuracies in the conversion of words and sentences that will require correction. Editing the finished text will not take much time compared to the traditional writing of the interrogation protocol, especially in cases of drafting a multi-page document." Thus, the article makes a definite contribution to the development of domestic legal science and, of course, deserves the attention of potential readers. The scientific style of research is fully sustained by the scientist. The structure of the work is quite logical. In the introductory part of the article, the author substantiates the relevance of his chosen research topic. In the main part of the work, the scientist, analyzing the modern practice of interrogation at the stage of preliminary investigation of crimes, identifies a number of problems associated with high time costs in the preparation of appropriate interrogation protocols, the difficult use of certain tactical techniques during interrogation, etc., and suggests the most optimal way to solve them through the introduction of so-called transcription, which is successfully used in a number of spheres of life. The final part of the article contains conclusions based on the results of the study. The content of the article fully corresponds to its title and does not cause any special complaints. The bibliography of the study is presented by 14 sources (dissertation work, scientific articles, educational and methodical manual). From a formal and factual point of view, this is quite enough. The nature and number of sources used in writing the article allowed the author to reveal the research topic with the necessary depth and completeness. There is an appeal to opponents, both general and private (Z. S. Lebedev, I. I. Sheremetyev, etc.), and it is quite sufficient. The scientific discussion is conducted by the author correctly; the provisions of the work are justified to the necessary extent and illustrated with examples. There are conclusions based on the results of the study ("In this regard, criminology faces the task of further introducing information technology and artificial intelligence into the practice of investigation. Transcription, as a modern way of converting oral speech into text, will contribute to the completeness and objectivity of recorded testimony, speed up the process of drawing up a protocol, and more effective use of interrogation tactics. The use of transcription will require appropriate correction of forensic tactics. The training programs on forensic interrogation tactics should include practical exercises on the use of software products for converting oral speech into text. To a large extent, their introduction into the interrogation procedure depends on practical staff, their orientation towards improving the effectiveness of crime investigation"), have the properties of reliability and validity and undoubtedly deserve the attention of potential readers. There are typos in the work ("The transcription process involves the perception of audio content and its subsequent transformation into text, while ensuring high verbatim of oral speech" - "transcription"; "They have a relatively simple interface, provide a high level of verbatim transcription [13, pp. 230-232],[14, pp. 25-30], etc."; "A modern investigator will easily master the skills of transcription" - the same thing, etc. The author writes: "In practice, investigators use various approaches to the order and sequence of interrogation and protocol preparation" - "... approaches to the order and sequence of interrogation and protocol preparation". The interest of the readership in the article submitted for review can be shown primarily by specialists in the field of criminal law, criminal procedure and criminalistics, provided that it is slightly improved: the disclosure of the research methodology and the elimination of typos.
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