Police Station Advice
The police may contact you to invite you to attend for a voluntary police interview. The voluntary interview will take place under caution at the police station, and you will not be arrested or booked into custody.
You have the right to arrange for a solicitor, free of charge, to attend the voluntary interview with you.
The police will advise you, at the outset of the voluntary interview, that you are not under arrest and free to leave at any time. However, if you exercise your right to leave before or during the interview you may be arrested.
The police must inform the suspect that the purpose of the voluntary interview is to question them to obtain evidence about their involvement or suspected involvement in an offence.
What you say in a voluntary interview has the same weight if you had been arrested and interviewed. It remains an interview under caution.
The outcomes of a voluntary interview can be:
- no further action;
- Arrested and charged with a criminal offence;
- Released under investigation
- Reported for a charge to be considered against you which may result in you receiving a summons to attend court. If this happens you will be required to attend at the police station to provide your fingerprints, DNA sample and photograph; and
- Your consent may be sought by the police to take part in an identification parade or voluntarily surrender items such as phones and computers. If you fail to comply you may be arrested.
- Where a suspect is vulnerable and unable to withstand pressure;
- If a suspect wishes to reserve their position;
- Avoid self-incrimination;
- You may know who the true culprit is but not want to name them for fear of reprisals;
- Your defence might involve admissions to some other damaging or embarrassing conduct;
- We are unable to fully advise you as the police have not given us enough disclosure; or
- The case is too complex or old to provide an immediate response
- Your state of mind at the time of interview. Perhaps you were suggestible or in a state of shock?
- You might be easily confused or vulnerable and liable to make mistakes in your account
- There is a need to refer to information that isn’t to hand in police interview to check an alibi
- We identify that there is some other good reason why you might not come over well in police interview
Do I have to give the police my Mobile Phone PIN or passwords?
No, you don’t but see below for consequences of refusal to provide the pin or password to a computer or social media account.
The police must obtain written permission from court to give notice under section 49 Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 this then provides “appropriate permission”.
If you do not comply with a properly given notice, you can be prosecuted, you can be sentenced to a maximum of 2 years imprisonment or 5 years imprisonment for an offence involving national security or child indecency.
Released under investigation (RUI)
One of the outcomes of a police interview is to be released under investigation. This means the investigation has not concluded; it is ongoing without an end date, and you will be notified at a later date if you will be charged or released with no further action.
The uncertainty of being released under investigation is undoubtedly frustrating as it is impossible to know if any delay is due to the investigation or other cases have been prioritised by the office in the case.
Kings Solicitors can contact the officer regularly to persuade the officer to make a decision and ascertain at what stage the investigation is at.
This is important where the police have items subject to forensic testing or having computers or mobile phones analysed.
We can help negotiate the return of property to you if it is no longer relevant to the investigation.
Kings Solicitors can attend any further interviews under caution during this period.
Can I change Solicitors once I’ve been interviewed?
If you had a duty solicitor or a solicitor of your choice in your first interview, then Kings Solicitors can still represent you in any subsequent interview under caution and that advice will remain free of charge to you.
Relying on a prepared statement
An option to answering police questions in a police interview is to rely on a prepared statement and then reply no comment to questions during the interview.
The benefit of this is that the court cannot draw adverse inferences of your failure to answer questions during the police interview subject to the prepared statement addressing the allegations and disclosure provided by the police. This will avoid the court being able to draw conclusions about the truthfulness of any account given at court which was reasonable to mention during the interview.
If the police are not providing full disclosure of the evidence that they hold then the advice will be to rely on a prepared statement to reduce the risk of self-incrimination.
Additional reasons to submit a prepared statement include:
When to submit a prepared statement?
The prepared statement can be submitted at any stage before charge.
In some cases the contents of the statement will not be disclosed to the police in any interview, but will dated, timed and signed by you and only produced if there is sufficient evidence to take your case to court.
What is in the prepared statement?
Kings Solicitors will draft your prepared statement from your instructions. It needs to mention all of the necessary information to reduce the risk of an adverse inference. This is important as it is likely to be used at trial in one form or another if you are charged.
The right to silence and no comment interviews
The advice to answer no comment in interview avoids the risk of self-incrimination but needs to outweigh the risk that a court may draw an adverse inference of your failure to mention a fact later relied on in their defence and whether it was reasonable at the time for the accused to have mentioned this fact in interview or on charge. You cannot be convicted solely based on an adverse inference because of your silence during interview. Their must be other evidence.
Our advice and your instructions are confidential and subject to legal privilege. We can only disclose your instructions and our legal advice with your permission.
We will always make a note of the instructions that you give, so even if you make ‘no comment’ replies in interview, your instructions can be used as evidence to the court if necessary to show that you haven’t made up a defence if you are charged.
What if I am guilty of the offence?
It may be that although you are guilty of the offence the police may not have enough evidence to put before a court to convict you without your admission. There might be concerns about the level of disclosure of evidence from the police which could suggest that the evidence to convict you simply isn’t there. As a suspect is ‘innocent until proven guilty’ you are perfectly within your rights to choose not to answer questions.
Alternatively, it might be that the police do not know the full extent of your offending and answering questions would make matters far worse for you. Again, this would be a valid reason for replying no comment to police questions in interview.
If you admit the offences in police interview then you will have the benefit of demonstrating remorse for your offending. True remorse can significantly reduce any sentence that you receive.
Alternatively, an early admission might mean that a prosecution can be avoided, and you can be diverted from the court system. To receive a caution or Community Resolution disposal which may include elements of Restorative Justice and is referred to as an out of court disposal or diversion from prosecution.
What if I have a defence to the charge? Shouldn’t I tell the police?
There may be a number of reasons why you would choose not to answer questions if you are innocent of the charge. For example:
Other factors that might be relevant could include:
Our specialist police station advice will include whether there is a good reason for making no comment in interview, including whether a prepared statement should be used instead to control the way the police are told about your defence.
We will advise you as to whether there are likely to be issues of admissibility at court relating to such matters as comment that you have made to the police upon arrest or any informal identification that might mean you should exercise your right to silence.