U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Recording Victim Interviews (Training Bulletin)

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 2020
3 pages

This training bulletin outlines the advantages and disadvantages of recording investigators' interviews with sexual assault victims and offers guidance on policies related to the recording of such interviews.


The primary advantage of taping a victim interview is that it provides a more reliable method of documenting what is said in the interview than relying on the investigator's notes of the interview. The primary disadvantage of taping the victim interview is that it can sometimes be used against the victim by the defense; for example, if the victim's demeanor in the interview does not fit the stereotype of "real rape" held by some jurors, the defense can use the tape to undermine the victim's credibility. Also, victims often make incorrect statements due to faulty memory or emotional state during the crime. This training bulletin advises that best practice is to document all of the information from the victim, and the most reliable means of doing this is by taping the interview. Agencies that routinely record victim interviews have found that most victims do not object once it is explained to them that this will provide the best record of the interview and the victim's statement about what happened. Victims should also be offered the services of an advocate, who can provide them with information and support during the interview process. The advocate can also assist the victim if any issues or concerns arise in the course of recording the interview.