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HMRC internal manual

Enquiry Manual

Working the Enquiry: Meetings: Video and Audio Recording

You must not make an audio or video recording of a meeting.

It is not our policy to ask if a meeting is being recorded. However, if exceptionally you have good reasons to believe the meeting is being recorded, but the taxpayer or agent did not advise you, you may ask if it is being recorded.

If the taxpayer or his agent wish to make an audio (sound) recording of the meeting you should normally allow this. Legally we cannot prevent such a recording. You should

  • ask to make a copy of the audio recording at the end of the meeting if local facilities exist, or
  • request a full typed transcript of the recording or an unedited copy of the audio recording from the taxpayer or their agent, and
  • record what was said including their agreement/disagreement in your notes of meeting which should be prepared in the usual manner EM1833.

Although this guidance refers to audio recordings of meetings it applies equally to recording of telephone conversations.

If the taxpayer or his agent wishes to make a video recording of a meeting you should normally refuse their request. Video recordings of meetings can have security implications, both for the officers concerned and the Department. There is the risk that the video recording will be used for some other purpose. From the taxpayer’s point of view there is normally no immediately obvious business reasons why a video recording, as opposed to an audio recording, is necessary. If you do have particular concerns you should make a note of them in the enquiry papers.

Exceptionally there may be circumstances where the case for video rather than audio recording is pressed.

Exceptional circumstances

An example may be where it is alleged that the Enquiry Officer’s behaviour is physically intimidating, or where the taxpayer is deaf.

You do not have the right to insist on a taxpayer attending a meeting. If the taxpayer refuses to take part unless the proceedings are video recorded then you will have to weigh up all the circumstances and decide whether to make an exception to the normal policy. You should consult your line manager in such circumstances.

If you do decide, exceptionally, to allow a video recording to be made on official premises you should explain that for security reasons HMRC does not normally allow this, and the following conditions must apply

  • the camera should be sited so that the Enquiry Officer’s face is not clearly seen on film. This will usually mean that it should be sited behind the Enquiry Officer
  • the taxpayer or agent should give an undertaking that no part of the recording will be used for any purpose other than the current enquiry
  • the taxpayer or agent should supply you with an unedited copy at their own expense or, if local facilities permit, allow a copy to be made at the end of the meeting. You should still prepare your own notes EM1833.

If the taxpayer objects to these conditions you may refuse to make any exception to the normal policy of not allowing video recording on official premises.

If video recording does take place on official premises you must take care that official papers, files and computer screens are not visible and that other members of staff and details of building security systems are not within camera shot.

You cannot prevent a taxpayer from making a video recording on their own premises. Again you will have to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages in deciding whether to acquiesce. Although we cannot insist that any conditions apply, you should still request that the recording is made under the same conditions as it would be if it had been made on official premises.