Who Uses Digital Voice Recorders? – Australian Customs, As Seen on TV

I am a member of a very select group. It’s a group that notices digital voice recorders on TV and in movies. Oh yeah, they are everywhere and I often find myself sniggering at the cheap, low quality recorders most on TV or in Hollywood are using. Not so though my favourite voice recorder spotting show which is Border Security (now in its 11th season) which airs on Channel 7 in Australia. There are similar shows in the UK, US and New Zealand .. it is the one where we like to watch holiday makers, drug smugglers and illegal immigrants try and sneak past our border patrols, amazing what we call entertainment these days.

I digress … Border Security has regular appearances by usually Olympus and Sony digital voice recorders, as seen in the image above. The voice recorder is a key tool used to record interviews between the immigration officer and the newly arrived person of interest, to ascertain their story on why they are here. The audio recording will have many uses within Australian Customs which may include:

  • An accurate record of events in case of legal action
  • For review by senior staff on immigration officer conduct and interviewing techniques
  • As training for new immigration officers

These small digital voice recorders (typically the Olympus WS series note takers) are perfect for one-on-one interviews and can pick up crystal clear digital audio. They run off a single AAA rechargeable or alkaline battery and can be quickly and easily connected to any PC or Mac to transfer the MP3, WMA or PCM .WAV audio files. But key with this style of voice recorder which is commonly known as a note taker (what is the difference between a note taker and a dictaphone?) is that the audio recorded can not be manipulated on the recorder. This means the recording is made in real time and can not not altered on the recorder in any way, no chunks of audio can be removed or later inserted. Many under cover police officers use this style of voice recorder for just this reason.

So next time you are in your pyjamas enjoying an episode of “tourist brings in too much food” and you see them carted off to the interview room look out for the small digital voice recorder sitting between the officer and the interviewee.

In some cases, a formal interview may be required to ascertain further information about your immigration status. The interview is conducted by immigration staff in immigration offices at the airport, and may be recorded.”  – taken from Arrival at an Australia Airport, Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship website.

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