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Have You Been Called In For A Voluntary Police Interview With The Police?
What Is A Voluntary Police Interview?
Interviews as a volunteer are commonly referred to as a caution plus 3 interview, stand-alone interview, appointment interview or voluntary interview. A ‘chat’ is a phrase that has also come up on occasions and is used by some police officers. Police use this causal phrase to make a suspect believe the procedure to be unimportant. However, all of the terms have the same meaning.
Alternatively, in a voluntary interview, the officer dealing with the case will have to decide whether there is a ‘necessity’ to make an arrest before placing the person concerned before the custody sergeant. The custody sergeant would have to consider the authorisation of their detention in custody. The sergeant would then have to be satisfied that Code G of the police and criminal evidence act 1984 has been met.
If there is no ‘necessity’ to make an arrest, the police will more often interview on a voluntary basis at a local police station. This will only require an interview room. They may even want to interview you at home. Even if you are not going to be arrested, it is of the utmost importance to have specialist legal advice. In some cases, the police may offer you a warning (caution) for a minor offence, which could have a serious impact on your life and career prospects.
What Do I Do If I’m Asked In For A Voluntary Interview?
If you receive a call from the police or they attend your home to invite you in for an interview, it can be a daunting experience and highly stressful. It is advisable at this early stage to seek legal advice to protect your best interests. We will attend the police station with you and guide you through the process from entering the police station to when you leave.
We can contact the officer concerned on your behalf and make arrangements for the interview to take place. If the police believe there is a ‘necessity’ to arrest you upon arrival at the police station, we can make representations to try and dissuade them from doing so.
Do I Require A Solicitor For A Police Interview?
The best person to advise you on whether you need legal advice at the police station is an independent legal representative – NOT THE POLICE. It is against the law for the police to try and dissuade you from having legal advice.
Code C of the codes of practise paragraph 6.4 states that ‘no police officer should, at any time, do or say anything with the intention of dissuading any person who is entitled to legal advice in accordance with this Code, whether or not they have been arrested and are detained, from obtaining legal advice’. This may not stop certain police officers from trying anyway. They may suggest it would delay proceedings, or if you are innocent, why would you need representation.
People’s perception is that if they seek legal advice, it may make them look guilty – it doesn’t; it is your right. This is your most important right at the police station, whether you are in custody, having been arrested or attending as a volunteer.
What To Expect
What Happens DuringThe Voluntary Interview?
When attending, it is important to know your legal rights still apply for a formal voluntary/caution plus 3 interview in that:
- You may leave at any time
- You are not under arrest
- You can have a lawyer to assist you
It is important to understand that when being interviewed by the police ‘under caution’, you are a ‘suspect’ in a criminal investigation. The purpose of a a voluntary police interview ‘under caution’ is to allow the individual concerned to advance any defence that they may choose to rely on at a later date, if they have a defence.
The caution given at the start of a police interview states that “you do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something you may later rely on in court, anything you do say may be given in evidence.” This is very important and will have to be fully explained by your lawyer.
Over recent years there have been changes to how the police deal with people. There is more need for interviews to be conducted on a voluntary interview basis due to the limited number of custody suites now open. As you are attending, as a ‘volunteer’ you have an option where you can refuse to participate or not actually to be interviewed. You must seek advice on this as a refusal to attend could have serious implications. In this instance, the police will have to decide on the ‘necessity’ to arrest to progress and advance their investigation. If attending as a volunteer, it will have to be considered at the time and dependent on the case/individual concerned as to whether a voluntary police interview goes ahead. You must seek legal advice on this before you make a decision.
What To Do Next
What Happens After The Voluntary Police Interview?
Once interviewed by the police under caution, the officer dealing will then refer the matter to a sergeant to review and make a decision. It may be the case that you are offered a community resolution or a police caution based on admissions made in your voluntary police interview about the offence. You must seek legal advice on this, as even accepting a caution can potentially affect your life and career prospects, as has been stated before.
In some instances, the sergeant will direct the officer to refer the matter to the crown prosecution service for a prosecution decision. They will then decide if there is sufficient evidence to prosecute. If it is deemed that there is sufficient evidence to precede, a postal requisition (summons) will be issued in the post for you to attend court.
The sergeant and crown prosecution service may decide that there is ‘insufficient evidence’ to prosecute and no realistic prospect of a successful prosecution. In this instance, ‘no further action’ will be taken. However, if further evidence comes to light, they could reconsider this decision and even request a further interview.Get In Touch Today
What Are The Benefits Of Obtaining Legal Advice?
- The officer dealing with your case would first provide your lawyer with disclosure information about the allegation against you. You will then be at an advantage prior to the police interview in knowing what the case is all about.
- We can request the above from the officer before the interview appointment. If you don’t have a lawyer, you would be put at a disadvantage in having limited information about the case against you prior to the police interview.
- We would also have ample time to go through this with you taking your statement prior to the actual interview taking place.
- Once we have had a consultation with you and considered the strengths and weaknesses of the police’s case, we are then in a good position to advise you.
- There are three options with regards to legal advice for any police interview, which can be to put forward a full account, answer ‘no comment’ to questions or make a ‘prepared statement’.
- Your lawyer can read out the ‘prepared statement’ at the start of the interview on your behalf before you provide ‘no comment’ answers to questions thereafter.
A Typical Caution Plus 3 Interview Scenario
The Metropolitan Police force sends Dr Jones a letter in the post stating that they require him to attend a voluntary (caution plus 3) police interview as there has been an allegation made against him. They have requested that he emails the officer in charge, DC Mead, to make this appointment. The police loosely mention that he is entitled to bring a legal representative along with him. He has not been informed as to what the circumstances of the offence are that they are investigating him for.
Dr Jones does some research online to have an understanding of the process of a Voluntary Police Interview and what impact it may have on him.
Dr Jones contacts us for a free consultation and now has a more in-depth understanding of the whole process.
Following on from this, Dr Jones decides that it is in his best interests to have representation by his side even though he has done nothing wrong in his mind to make sure that his rights are protected. He is reassured that instructing legal representation does not make him look guilty.
We take all of the basic details from Dr Jones and inform him that we will email the officer on his behalf with a view of making this appointment to go in with him. We inform Dr Jones that we will also request a copy of the disclosure into the allegation in question, which will be the police’s summary of events.
The officer emails us back with the requested disclosure, and an appointment is made for the interview.
More Information On Police Interviews
Our Frequently Asked Questions
"It was really a shocking experience when I received a call from police asking me to attend an interview. The outcome could have been anything. I researched a lot and finally came to the conclusion that it is safe to have somebody represent me while the interview takes place. I found SJB legal consultants apart from two other Law firms who said they would arrange a callback but never did, and time was running short, but Mr Bunker was entirely different from other firms. He explained the situation clearly, and guided me in the right direction and on the day of representation, he travelled quite a long distance to be there for my case. The discussion went fine under his supervision and expertise, and I felt confident speaking to the police by having Mr Bunker by my side. He educated me about the process just prior to the interview. It was a stressful experience and would have gone worse had it not been for him. He was right on time, and later, he called me to let me know the case was dropped. I was happy. I’m very thankful to Mr Bunker, who is a down to earth soul. I strongly recommend his services if you get into a situation like an interview or any criminal case. Truly a gentleman with an amazing attitude."