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Can I record a phone conversation?


WhiteTruckMan

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I'm having trouble with a neighboring council (Burnley Borough Council) using baliffs to pursue a council tax debt of somebody with a similar name to me. The other person has an address in burnley, but the council has somehow found my address, stuck the other persons name on it, then passed it on to debt recovery agents i.e. baliffs to pursue. I've contacted the baliffs by phone, and in a recorded conversation which they agreed to, have notified them that this person does not and never has lived here, and that any further letters will be returned with a bill for £25 handling. They informend me that my address was provided by BBC.

Now here's where it gets interesting. I've contacted BBC debt recovery department by phone, and the first thing that you hear is a recorded message that calls my be recorded for monitoring and training purposes. However when I get through to an operator and I inform them that I am recording the call as well, they refuse to discuss anything. So do I have to disclose the fact that I am recording a call, as anything said may be a basis for a formal complaint?

WTM

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oresome

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I once applied for a civil service job and one of the questions asked at interview was what would my action be if I became aware a work colleague was recording conversations within the office.

It did seem a somewhat strange question to ask.

Undeterred by my answer, they then asked me what I would do if a colleague was always at the water cooler chatting to the girl from accounts and their desk phone was left ringing.

PS

This wasn't a managerial or supervisory role (and I did get a job offer!)

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WhiteTruckMan

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fourm member

I think flak999 isnt talking about voicemail, rather an audio recording facility on the smartphone itself.

I must say that when I made my first recording of a call (as I indicated in my original post) I made the call on a landline using the speakerphone facility and used my mobile (not a smartphone) with the video recorder running, but laid flat on the table as I spoke. Not exactly high tech, but if it works.... There is a seperate audio only recorder but for some reason will only store to the phones own miniscule memory, but the video is set to save to memory card with the default size limit overridden.

WTM

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Flak999

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fourm member

The same rules apply.

In which case how have successful prosecutions and disciplinary action been taken against these officers using these recordings as evidence? Because they were recorded without the officers knowledge?

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Flak999

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Here is an example of a voice recording on a mobile phone leading to the prosecution of a police officer.

mobile phone recording of alleged racist abuse

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Forum Editor

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Flak999

Recording a face to face conversation with a Police Officer is an entirely different thing. It's not a telephone conversation where the two parties involved cannot see each other.

The whole business of recording phone conversations is covered by several pieces of legislation. The 1998 Data Protection requires that if, for instance, you phone someone who intends to record the call, and it would subsequently be possible to identify you from the content, they must inform you how they might use the recording, gain your consent before the recording starts, and the recording must be kept for no longer than is necessary for the purpose they outlined to you. It must also be available to you on request, at all times.

If the call is likely to contain information about your race/ethnic background, political opinion, religion, trade union membership, physical/mental health, sexual life, offences committed or legal proceedings against you the other party must gain your explicit consent - either verbally or by asking you to press a telephone key to signify acceptance. Otherwise the fact that you did not object or terminate the call would be sufficient.

Recording what a Police officer says is no different to the Police officer recording what you say, and many Police officers now have head-cams that do just that. It's simply a record of a face-to-face encounter.

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Flak999

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Forum Editor

I am not sure I understand fully the obviously subtle nuances of the law in question.

Are you saying that it would be inadmissible in a court of law to present a secretly recorded telephone conversation of a police officer racially abusing someone, but it would be admissible to present secretly recorded evidence of a police officer racially abusing someone if it were obtained whilst interacting with the officer on a face to face basis?

If that indeed is the case, does that not seem a slightly incongruous state of affairs?

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Flak999

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fourm member

Very confusing indeed!

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oresome

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As a matter of courtesy and to save any potential embarrassment, I always informed a telephone caller if I wished to use the loudspeaker facility to enable others to listen in on the conversation, or if I had a passenger in the car.

I suppose one or more third parties listening in on a conversation would help substantiate it, if not to the extent an actual recording would.

I don't know what the legalities of listening in are.

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Flak999

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Another thing that strikes me with regard to this subject. Why, is it not admissible in court to present evidence from a secretly recorded telephone conversation?

Presumably, if I were to phone a supplier of goods and services with a complaint about the service I have received and as a result of our conversation, I was given a promise of recompense in the form of a refund or some other goodwill gesture.

If I had recorded the conversation without informing the other party, and they reneged on their promise, I could prove my case. If however I advised them before the conversation started that I was recording our conversation, they would either refuse point blank to talk to me, or be very guarded in their response.

I don't therefore understand why such recordings are inadmissible? If the supplier is being upfront and honest then there should be no problem with my recording the conversation, if however the supplier is being rather less than honest in his replies and is merely trying to fob me off, then my recording expedites my case!

What is the problem with that?

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Forum Editor

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Flak999

It's perfectly OK to record a telephone conversation between two private individuals. The problems begin when one of those individuals provides the recording to a third party for whatever reason, without the consent of the second party. You might do it if you could argue that it was in the public interest, and that's what has happened on several occasions when reporters have made secret recordings - court battles have ensued. The defence argument, and it's a good one, is that if a person knew that the conversation was being recorded the content of it would have been significantly different.

The court situation is never completely clear-cut. RIPA prohibits the use of unlawful telephone recordings as evidence in court, and many judges are known to take the view that someone who cheats (by making a secret recording) should not profit from it. The other problem is that once the other party is aware that a recording exists you must disclose it, and that can have other legal implications.

By and large, if you can convince a judge that the recording contains information that is highly relevant to your case, and helpful to the judge and/or jury you may be allowed to introduce it, but you mustn't make that assumption. It's a very tricky area of law.

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