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  1. There's been a fair bit of back and fro about the legalities, and pros and cons of recording your WCA or any other Atos-related assessment for that matter. The consensus seems to be that it's all very well asking Atos to do the recording, but it's probably best not to rely on them actually providing the goods on the day and to have a back-up just in case, which is where covert recording comes into play. Let's be crystal clear here: It is perfectly legal for an individual to record a conversation, and they do not have to notify the other side. An individual person is exempt from the Data Protection Act and not bound by the rules that apply to companies, as long as it it for their personal use. Using a recording so that you can show discrepancies in the notes taken during your assessment, for example, comes without a doubt under "personal use". In fact, even the DWP have had to finally admit that there is no rule to stop people from doing this, despite trying to say otherwise for a long time or trying to put restrictions on how recordings could be done. So, with all of the above in mind, for those who think: "great, I don't trust them buggers, but how do I go about it?", this is a little guide that will hopefully help a few people send Atos and the DWP packing with a flea in their ear: There are plenty of recording devices available these days, including on most phones, so: BEFORE the event: 1 - Use whichever best tool is available to you, if you can afford a secret mike facility, great, if not, make sure that there are as few obstacles between the mike and what's being recorded (clothes rustling or whatever can all interfere, so a clear line of recording is always best) 2 - Practice makes perfect: familiarise yourself with the equipment, try to use it in different situations so you know exactly how to switch it on, adjust it and so on. 3 - Absolutely necessary is enough memory to record the lot, so do invest into a good size memory card, I'd think 8GB will be more than enough, but again it depends on the amount of data the recordign device uses. It's always worth spending a couple of extra quid and get a bigger card if possible IMO. 4 - Start the recording before you get in there, so that if there is a broken lift, or they're trying to bully you into climbing stairs or other traps, or you can't get the door open, or no parking etc...you have recorded proof of their actions. AFTER the event: 5 - Get the data transcripted as soon as possible. If you're capable of doing it yourself, that's fine, just make sure it is an exact transcript. If there are bits which are muffled but you remember what was said, put it in brackets, like this [inaudible, but what happened was this: ...]. 6 - COPY your data onto CD, more than one copy, and also save it online somewhere, and also on different media. (I once went to a DLA tribunal where we were producing a dvd evidence, which they knew about, so had the equipment all in place... except the DVD player wouldn't play our format of DVD! Thankfully, I had my laptop and a USB key with the info on both of them just in case!) 7 - When preparing for tribunal, make sure that you warn both the DWP and the tribunal ahead of time that you will be entering the recording as evidence. 8 - When sending your bundle to the tribunal, enclose the DVD or USB key as part of your index, and the transcript of it as the next item on the index. If you act confident that there is no reason for them to argue, they are far less likely to try and argue, so enter these as parts of your evidence exactly like you would do with a medical report or a letter, it belongs there. It then puts THEM on the wrong footing to try and get it thrown out, and they would HAVE to show a very good reason for it to be rejected (which then gives grounds for higher appeal for erring in law if need be, so double whammy here!) 9 - Make sure you include another copy of the disc or key for the DWP. Normally, the tribunal makes the copies and sends them on to DWP (unlike normal court where you'd be expected to send a bundle to the courts and one to the other side!) but you can't really expect them to do that with a dvd or a USB key, so just do it yourself as a courtesy, clean hands and all that, it deprives the DWP of another chance to say they were ambushed. 10 - See what happens. I would put some money on the DWP folding in more and more cases as they become more and more worried about covert recordings. ;-) Of course, you could always end up with a recording showing the HCP being scrupulously fair, doing their job properly, recording things as they happened etc... and your recording therefore being useless as a defense argument, but that's just one of these things. Let's face it, the odds of that happening are not huge by all accounts.
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