Aboriginal language police cautions

In 2015, the Aboriginal Interpreter Service (AIS) completed recording, editing and quality checking the NT police caution in 18 Aboriginal languages. The police caution explains some of a suspect's rights when the suspect is questioned by police.


  1. To increase the understanding of the police caution by Aboriginal suspects who do not speak English as a first language; and
  2. To decrease the frequency of challenges to EROIs (Electronic Record of Interview)/admissions on the basis that the caution was not properly administered or that the interpreter did not properly interpret the caution.

Background, process and quality control

  1. The Commonwealth Ombudsman’s Report “Talking in Language: Indigenous language interpreters and government communication” (April 2011) identified areas for improved communication with Indigenous Australians and led to funding for the AIS for related projects.
  2. A working group was formed in August 2012 with participants from AIS, NT Police and NT Department of Attorney-General and Justice.
  3. The working group developed a plain English front translation of the caution, which incorporated both judicial comments on the delivery of the caution to Aboriginal suspects and linguistic knowledge about features of English that inhibit clear communication.
  4. Experienced interpreters worked with AIS trainers to record an interpretation of the front translation.
  5. A second interpreter provided a back-translation of the recording. Any discrepancies between the front translation and back translation were examined. The caution was re-recorded until both interpreters were satisfied with the accuracy and clarity of the recording.
  6. Most recordings are between 2-3 minutes long.

Legal specifics

  1. Two versions of the caution were recorded; one for suspects in custody and one for suspects not in custody.
  2. The use of the recorded caution is not intended to remove the legal obligation that police must demonstrate the suspect’s understanding of the caution.
  3. The recordings explain the right to silence and the right to inform a person of your location (for suspects in custody).
  4. Recordings do not encompass the right to a support person, or the right to an interpreter.
  5. The caution may be used in both s140 PAA cautions and in formal EROIs.
  6. Police must still assess whether to use the recorded caution and work with an interpreter during the interview.
  7. The use of the recorded caution does not remove the need to work with an interpreter during the interview with the suspect.

These recordings are being made available here for the purposes of legal education. If you would like to provide feedback on any of these recordings, please contact ais@nt.gov.au.

Standardised audio police caution (SAPC) English front translations

In custody PDF (184.9 KB)

NOT in custody PDF (182.3 KB)

Last updated: 21 June 2017

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