Electronic check to be kept on RUC logs

POLICE in Northern Ireland are introducing new interview methods to prevent officers doctoring notes after questioning terrorist suspects.

From Monday, detectives questioning suspects detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act will no longer take notes in their loose-leaf notebooks but will be issued with booklets electronically stamped with the date and time of the start and finish of each interview.

Additional measures will also be introduced to safeguard the long-term storage and security of interview records.

The change follows criticism of the Royal Ulster Constabulary in July during an appeal by four former Ulster Defence Regiment soldiers who had been convicted of murder. Three were acquitted and one conviction was upheld.

Judges at the High Court in Belfast said during the case that it was of great importance that effective steps were taken to make sure 'police officers in future cannot rewrite interview notes and that notes cannot be falsely authenticated'.

The Director of Public Prosecutions is currently deciding whether to take action against RUC officers shown to have doctored notes while investigating the case.

The RUC was last night investigating the delivery to a newspaper of an army document on terrorist suspects. The document, sent to the Antrim Guardian, contained details and photographs of 20 people, including Danny Cassidy, a Sinn Fein worker murdered by the loyalist Ulster Freedom Fighters. Police said the document was a copy of a genuine file which had fallen into 'unauthorised' hands. The remaining 19 on the list have been warned that they could be in danger.

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