Updated: Mar 10
So you have just had a unexpected phone call from the police. They have asked you to come to the police station next tuesday at midday for a little chat! Something about a voluntary interview? They have asked you if you want a lawyer?. What should you expect? Whats going to happen? Surely nothing at all...Right?
Afraid you are wrong! Obtain free legal advice now.........!
There is no such thing as a cozy chat with the police in England and Wales.
If you have been asked to attend at a police station in England and Wales for a voluntary interview you are undoubtedly a suspect for a criminal offence.
Due to recent procedural changes in police rules police now have to show that there is a necessity to arrest a suspect to interview them about any criminal offence. To arrest someone to question them they must show:
Arrest is necessary to secure or preserve evidence by questioning or
Evidence cannot be obtained by any other way. This means that more and more the police are inviting suspects in for voluntary interviews. What actually happens at a voluntary interview? and do you need legal advice?
What actually happens at a voluntary interview?
The police will, when you arrive at a police station, usually invite you into a private room and undertake a risk assessment on you. They will ask you things like have you had any drugs or alcohol prior to your attendance, do you suffer from any medical or mental health problems and is there any reason why you cannot be interviewed now?
This is important from their point of view now as you might claim later in court you were not fit to be interviewed.
They will also ask you if you want legal advice. Say yes!
Legal advice in England and Wales is entirely free when you are interviewed by the police. Ask for your own solicitor if he undertakes criminal work or the duty solicitor if you do not have one. It is usually a good idea if you know in advance that the police wish to speak to you to contact a criminal solicitor in advance. Policestationagent.com can assist if you do not know of anyone with names of local firms.
The police will then take you into a private interview room where there will be recording equipment of some kind. The interview will usually be video and audio recorded. This will be so that you cannot dispute later on saying something that the police said that you did in interview.
The police will then switch the recording equipment on and ask you to say your name; your date of birth and your address. They will tell you that you are entitled to free and independent legal advice which includes the right to speak to a solicitor on the telephone. You can do it now or at any time whilst your at a police station.
Do not make the mistake of asking the police should you ask for legal advice? The police represent the prosecution in any criminal matter. Their job is not to protect your legal interests but to prevent crime; arrest criminals and secure, by whatever legal means necessary convictions of those that break the criminal law. From their point of view you having a free criminal solicitor in interview makes their job ten times hardier. After all they will give you independent advice on your legal position. You may not have committed the offence. The officer is committed to preventing crime and securing convictions. Anything that gets in the way of that is seen as a hindrance.
Do not be dissuaded from obtaining free legal advice. It could make the difference between walking free from court later on or being sent to gaol.
The police officer will then state they will give you a notice of rights and entitlements at the end of the interview! They will usually at this point inform you that your are not under arrest as its a voluntary interview and are free to leave at any time. Some officers will however then inform you that if you do decide to leave they may have to arrest you to ensure the interview is carried out!
They will then caution you. They will say:
"You do not have to say anything. It can harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something that you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence".
Explanation and part 2 coming soon............
If you have a voluntary police interview in England and Wales and want free legal representation please contact police station agent on 07535 494446 for free police station representation by Robert Cashman a fully qualified criminal solicitor who works on behalf of tuckers solicitors. Representation can be by remote attendance if you are outside our local area or in person in Kent and South East London.