Transcription Unit (Details)

Name of province/ territory:


City/ Region:


Description of Initiative:

The Transcription Unit provides transcription services to units and detachments by transcribing verbatim interviews and statements from witnesses, victims and accused persons for ongoing police investigations and Criminal Code prosecutions. Other statements transcribed include complaints against Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and statutory investigations. The unit also transcribes recordings of performance meetings, 911 calls, Operational Communication Centre calls and videos of crime scene re-enactments and of the arrest and transport of accused persons.

Initiative Key Objectives:

Preparing transcripts accurately and professionally and within investigation/court time lines using standardized formats and rules set by the Unit through consultation with Criminal Operations.

Accepting as many transcription requests as possible thereby alleviating pressures at the unit/detachment level.

Section Responsible for Implementation:

'F' Division Transcription Unit—Saskatoon (only unit in the province)

Key Contact:

Kimberlee Berg

Groups/ Agencies/ Key Partners Involved:

Level of Involvement (consultative - information sharing) and/or cooperative - direct involvement):


Amount of Time Initiative has been in Place:

In September 2006, the unit received permanent funding and indeterminate public servant transcriber positions were established.

Reason for Undertaking the Initiative:

In 2000, a high-profile investigation was underway involving a large number of witnesses. Statements needed to be transcribed in a cost-effective and timely manner. The decision was made at that time to set up an ad hoc unit and hire public servant casual transcribers to transcribe these statements.

Once the investigation was completed, this unit continued functioning by receiving statements from units and detachments in the province.

Resources Required to Implement this Initiative:

Costs associated with setting up the unit in 2000 were not significant, and office space was located in the Saskatoon RCMP building. Some equipment and furniture was purchased (cost: $5,000). At that time, salary costs associated with transcribing were transferred by journal voucher back to the units/detachments.

In 2006, permanent funding was approved for the unit. Transcribing costs were no longer transferred by journal voucher back to the detachments/units. The 'F' Division Transcription Unit, Saskatoon, was then established and consisted of a manager and 12 half-time transcriber positions.

The unit is comprised of a manager and nine full-time transcribers, broken down as follows:

  • manager—AS-02 (salary: $57,437/year)
  • transcribers—ST-OCE-02 (salary $40,575/year x 9 = $365,175)
  • total salary costs per year for the unit: $422,612

Method of Implementation:

The unit was first set up as an ad hoc unit. Once the unit was seen to provide a valuable service, indeterminate positions were approved and established.

Key Outcomes of the Initiative:

The objective of our unit is to transcribe statements quickly and accurately, thereby alleviating the pressures on detachments/units that often do not have sufficient support staff in place to transcribe the large number of statements that are required for investigations, disclosure and court.

Our unit also alleviates the need for support staff on detachments/units to work overtime to transcribe statements, thereby saving overall costs to the RCMP.

Transcribers are dedicated to the task of transcribing and have developed skills and expertise in this area. Transcripts prepared in our unit are prepared consistently with the same set of standards that our investigators have come to expect.

Our unit is currently comprised of a manager, nine full-time transcribers and seven casual transcribers.

While there are savings because of the classification of employee and the speed and accuracy with which the Transcription Unit can do the work versus a detachment services assistant (DSA), in the end the savings do not outweigh the cost of the unit. There are savings; however, the work must be done and the Transcription Unit facilitates the work in a cost-effective and efficient manner.

It is probably important to note that the Transcription Unit conducts a specialized task. A task that is removed from the DSA's workload. The DSAs are responsible for multiple tasks and functions. The efforts of the Transcription Unit cannot reduce the number of DSAs. Major crimes, GIS and detachments will require DSA's for other tasks. The scope and necessity of transcription has grown beyond what is possible for DSA's to facilitate.

By cost, crude math is, (the number of hours spent transcribing estimate—9 Transcriber positions, 37.5 hrs week, 52 weeks 17550hrs) X ( hourly wage difference between a ST-OCE 02 and a CR04—$3.47 hr) = $64,958.40. This math is overly simplified however it demonstrates the savings are not near the total budget for the unit. It probably covers the cost of an employee or two, but not the unit.

Availability of a Communication Strategy:


Key Messages used to Publicize the Initiative:


Forms of Evaluation by which the Initiative will be Assessed:

  • internal
  • quantitative
  • qualitative

Evaluation Completed or Community Feedback Received:


Summary of the Outcomes:

The unit’s productivity and statistics are reviewed on a yearly basis and are provided to Criminal Operations.

Positive comments are received from the detachment/unit investigators and support staff with regard to the accuracy, timeliness and professional quality of transcripts that are prepared by our unit.

Summary of the Performance Measure Data Collected:


Economics of Policing Pillars:

Further Details:

Transcripts are prepared using standardized formats and rules. Reference manuals have been prepared for the unit with guidelines to be followed when transcribing. These guidelines are updated regularly with new information in order to continually improve the professional quality and integrity of the transcripts.

Transcription requests are prioritized when received at the unit, ensuring that more urgent transcripts are completed first and within time lines.

Our unit receives both audio and video statements from across the division that have been recorded at various locations and in different formats. Transcribers have three different transcription software programs to choose from to play these recordings. This allows them to choose the software that is most compatible with the recording received, thereby producing the most complete and accurate transcript possible.

Most support staff on detachments/units do not have the three transcription software programs available to them. Their knowledge and expertise in the use and operation of transcription software may be limited, as transcribing may not be a duty they perform regularly.

Transcribers work in a quiet environment, as opposed to detachment assistants who deal with the front counter, radio, telephones and other duties.

We have 11 transcriber work stations that are fully functional (two of these work stations are used by casual employees). If a transcriber is having computer problems at one work station, she can move to another and continue working.

The manager of the unit deals with technical problems involving issues with hardware, software and any problem recordings received from detachments/units before technical support is requested from another unit. Recurring problems can be dealt with quickly and with less down time and frustration as expertise is learned and developed. A reference manual has also been developed that tracks technical problems and how they were resolved.

Often, detachments/units (e.g., Major Crimes Unit) will send in a large number of statements with regard to one file. When this occurs, several transcribers can be assigned to work solely on that file. In this way, the productivity and accuracy of the transcripts will improve as the transcribers become familiar with the names, circumstances, locations, etc. with regard to that file.

Detachments/units often do not have sufficient clerical staff available to transcribe statements, and at times transcribing is required to be completed on overtime, which can significantly add to the costs.

Additional Comments or Suggestions:

Positive comments are continually received from detachment assistants and other support staff as well as investigators. They prefer to use our services as much as possible, thereby allowing their support staff to complete other tasks.

Record Entry Date:


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