The COVID-19 pandemic has been a bombshell for many vulnerable people, leaving them in desperation and trapped within the darker side of our society.
With the lockdown directly forcing vulnerable women and children indoors with their violent and abusive partners for weeks and months at a time, we have seen domestic violence (physical, verbal and sexual) and child abuse soar. A recipe for disaster, and death, has been created.
The UN has taken to describe this increase in domestic abuse as a ‘shadow pandemic’. However, most of what is happening goes unreported as victims struggle to make contact with the support services they so desperately need. Victims have become entrapped in a downward spiral of abuse, violence, hopelessness and despair.
This has meant professionals, including social workers and health professionals, have had to think quickly and operate with flexibility and speediness. In doing so they have been able to migrate face-to-face meetings over to virtual platforms as these expert witness meetings dealing with complex child protection or domestic violence cases still have to take place. Some of these cases, all of which are highly confidential, will go to trial. These case-load meetings sometimes sadly including the death of children, so regardless of the lockdown situation and the pandemic measures in place, there has to be a viable platform on which these meetings can still happen.
Just three weeks into the pandemic the National Domestic Abuse Helpline reported a 49% increase in calls, and police received a domestic abuse call every 30 seconds. Sadly, reports of physical abuse against children had also increased by 53% and deaths linked directly to domestic violence during lockdown doubled from the same period last year.
Not surprisingly with statistics so high enquiries to utilise Zoom and Teams platforms for facilitating these meetings have increased by 50% during the pandemic.
However, it mustn’t be forgotten that standard meeting procedures and requirements need to be adopted in a virtual scenario. As expert witness meetings include evidence linked to court cases, which is often cross-examined, it is imperative that issues around IT equipment and configurations, confidentiality procedures and the provision of recording and transcribing meeting notes are all successfully addressed.
The popularity of the Zoom platform has however enabled the audio transcription services to get a whole lot smarter. The capability to transcribe from these meetings (transcribing from audio files) has flourished. By simply recording your audio/video file in Zoom the content can easily be forwarded and shared directly with a transcription service provider.
It has been found that expert meetings held on Zoom or Teams can be much better than face-to-face. With the recording quality being clearer and the speakers having less chance to talk over each other, a more accurate transcript is created.
You can of course pay for a premium subscription and utilise the artificial intelligence-led automated transcription services. These will provide a transcribed copy of the meetings’ audio content. However, this works like other AI transcription software, and is far from fool proof. Even in perfect conditions there is a purported accuracy level of just 89%, often less, leaving a large margin of error. This is unacceptable, especially if the content is relating to evidence or establishing facts that may later form part of a trial and be passed to a judge or barrister. Taking into account the additional background noise disturbances, misheard words, accent issues, technical or audio problems along with specific industry, medical or legal terms it is easy to see how this AI service will create an even greater margin of error in its transcription. This simply means any documents created by this service will still require a professional proof-reader to edit and produce a final version.
This situation, however, can be avoided with the aid of professional transcription assistance.
Transcription services, such as Alphabet Transcription Specialists, will understand your industry or profession and maintain the human touch when working on your documents. They are also ready to continue supporting all sectors, with as much ease and professionalism as before the recent changes.
We need to remember that going forward, connecting in this virtual way will be here to stay. Even as we start to drift back into office spaces and meeting rooms, the restrictions on the number of people who can meet face-to-face will see us continuing to work in the virtual space for the foreseeable future.