WARNING: VOLUNTARY INTERVIEWS
Why a voluntary police interview is never “just an informal chat”
- Voluntary interviews can take place at your home, at the police station or another suitable location
- Voluntary participation in an interview means that you are not under arrest. You will be told by the Police that you can terminate the interview at any time. In practice, once the interview has commenced this may be more difficult than anticipated and could in any event result in you being arrested to conclude the interview.
- Voluntary interviews are conducted under what is known as Police “Caution” . The caution is important, as all the information given during the interview can be used as evidence – in the same way as if you had been arrested. For this reason, a voluntarily interview is ordinarily audio recorded, may be visually recorded and handwritten notes made throughout.
- If you are interviewed by the Police under caution, on a voluntary basis or under arrest, at the police station or in your own front room, you are entitled to FREE and independent legal advice. The Police MUST advise you of this right before you are interviewed.
- Quite often it may be indicated that the Police wish to have “a quick chat to help us with our enquiries”. Warning : All too often clients say “ I haven’t done anything – I’ve got nothing to hide”. Saying the wrong thing without proper legal advice in some instances could see you ( or another person) charged with a criminal offence or summoned to court irrespective of the strength of the evidence against you.
- Clients are often advised that “Legal advice will delay the process and it will take much longer” Protecting yourself with adequate legal advice prior to and during ANY interview with the Police is your Legal Right. Absolutely no delay can come from exercising this right and interviews can be arranged at a convenient time to suit both yourself and a your legal representative ensuring that you have peace of mind and support throughout the entirety of the investigation process.
Why should I have a solicitor present in the interview?
We have had a number of clients, including professionals, who have been left with the very firm understanding and impression that Police are considering them as potential prosecution witnesses before attending a voluntary interview, only to find themselves served with a Summons to attend court as a Defendant after the investigation has been completed.
- A Legal Aid Solicitor is Free.
- Our Solicitors are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week and can provide an immediate response service.
- It is your Legal Right to have a Solicitor to represent you to protect your interest and guide you through the process. Use this legal right for your benefit.
- Our Solicitors are totally independent of the Police
- The Police are more likely to disclose to a solicitor the evidence they hold. There is no duty upon the Police to provide you with the same information prior to an interview.
- In some instances, a solicitor is able to negotiate an outcome on your behalf
- If the investigation concerning you remains ongoing, we are able to ensure that the police are conducting their enquiries as expeditiously as possible, keeping you informed every 28 days and pushing for progress on your behalf.
- After the interview, we remain contactable to answer any questions you may have and offer any reassurance you may need up to and beyond the conclusion of any investigation.
HOW WE CAN HELP
At McGregors Solicitors we have an experienced team who will make contact with the Officer and clarify the situation about the voluntary aspect of the interview, the agreed location and time.
They will assess if you have important issues to raise as part of your defence during interview to see if you have any special requirements i.e. whether or not an appropriate adult is necessary, or an interpreter and indeed if you are fit to be interviewed. You would be advised whether you should answer questions or draft a ‘considered statement’ as part of your defence.
You may be asked to surrender items to assist the Police with their investigation i.e. computer equipment, mobile phones, or electrical devices. This is another area where expert legal advice is necessary.
Our Solicitors will explain the Police Caution and its significance. Only a genuinely experienced, specialist lawyer, with a proven track record, can fully assess the situation and advise upon it.
The Police Station interview is the cornerstone of any prosecution and defence, it is therefore vital that you are fully advised before and throughout the interview. It will be very difficult to undo any mistakes that you may make in interview concerning an important detail or aspect of your defence during trial, indeed you will be cross-examined about any mistake that you may have made and it will be used against you.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
An increasingly number of young people, and even adults facing very serious allegations of sexual offences, money laundering and serious fraud are now subject to voluntary interviews.
Very often clients are not informed when a decision to take no further action on the investigation is made, or as stated earlier when they suddenly receive a summons to attend criminal proceedings at court. A voluntary interview means that there is little control over the progress and length of the investigation, they are often allowed to drift on and on.