PUBLISHED ON May 22, 2023
Studies from the UK Home Office reveal that the number of arrests in England and Wales has halved by almost 50% in the last decade. One of the most significant contributors to this is the rising trend in voluntary police interviews under caution of people suspected of committing criminal offences.
Voluntary interviews under caution are less time-consuming and, therefore, less expensive for the Police as a whole compared to arresting someone. In some cases, it might even seem as though a voluntary interview is preferred as there is insufficient evidence in a case. Worst of all, a suspect might end up incriminating themselves by what they say in the actual police interview, meaning the only reason they end up with the dreaded summons to court is what they said in the police interview.
This article defines the role of a voluntary police interview in criminal proceedings and the value of independent legal advice for the suspect.
What Is a Voluntary Interview?
It is important to realize that you are not under arrest and do not have to consent to be interviewed. However, if you refuse to attend or remain at a police station to be interviewed, it may result in your arrest.
When a police officer invites you to the police station for a ‘quick chat,’ you must understand that you will be questioned under caution as a suspect in a criminal investigation. What you say or do not say in that interview can be used against you in criminal proceedings. The recording of the interview will become evidence in the case. It can be quite disarming if you are invited in for what is made to seem like an informal meeting with a friendly police officer.
The most important safeguard for you is that you have the right to speak to a Solicitor before any interview date, and you can also have one by your side in the police interview itself. In fact, at Hudson Marshall Solicitors, we can usually obtain written disclosure relating to the specific evidence against you before your attendance. We would then have a very good idea of the questions you are likely to be asked and, most importantly, establish the likely strength of the evidence against you.
You are then in a position to review this with your solicitor and fully prepare your strategy for the interview. This will make the whole process a lot less stressful. We can sit down with you before the interview and confidently take your instructions relating to the evidence underpinning any allegations. From there, we can advise you on your best course of action, which, depending on your case, might be:
- Providing a prepared statement and then replying ‘no comment’ to police questions.
- Replying with no comment to all questions;
- Answering police questions in full;
Our advice to you will be based on the strength of the evidence against you, the level of information provided by the police, and your instructions.
Consideration of a ‘Caution’ or a ‘Community Resolution’
You may also be asked to attend so that you are given a ‘caution’ or a ‘community resolution’ to avoid the matter going to court. You should be under no illusion that if you accept a caution or a community resolution, that will be treated as an admission by you; that you are responsible for the criminal behaviour alleged. In situations where there is strong evidence against you, and you accept having committed the offence in question, a caution or a community resolution could end up being a good result. Your Solicitor will be best placed to give you the robust advice you need in this situation.
A Solicitor will be the ultimate safeguard, ensuring your rights are protected. On occasion, you might even attend the police station, only to find that you are arrested and held for up to 24 hours.
What Happens After an Interview?
After a voluntary interview under caution, the suspect will usually be left in limbo for a period of months, and sometimes even longer. The trauma of having a criminal allegation hanging over anyone can permeate the lives not only of the individual but also their loved ones. Your legal team ought to try to ensure that the police act expeditiously in closing out their investigation in your case.
The Importance of Expert Criminal Defence Solicitors in an Interview
The police may frame a voluntary interview as a ‘chat’ or ‘informal discussion.’ These interviews are, in fact, every bit as serious as an interview following your arrest. Taking advice from Hudson Marshall’s criminal defence solicitors could be the difference between you walking away from an interview with or without a charge.
Prepare for your voluntary interview with Hudson Marshall.
At Hudson Marshall Solicitors, our specialist legal team believes that legal representation is vital for voluntary interviews. If you have been invited to one of these interviews or would like to know more about them, call us for legal advice today at 0800 368 9939.
CONTACT HUDSON MARSHALL
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