As long ago as 2013, we noticed that there was a significant change in police tactic when it came to how the Police were dealing with the questioning and interviewing of people that they suspected of being involved in criminal behaviour.
As the pressure on police resources continues, as budgets are cut, the Police are ever more increasingly using Voluntary Police Interviews as a way of dealing with suspects of criminal offences. We have recently been instructed in relation to some very serious cases, where the Police did not arrest the “suspect”, but instead our client was “invited” into the police station for a “chat”, the voluntary interview.
Now, this all sounds very cosy doesn’t it? You could be forgiven for being reassured that because the Police haven’t actually arrested you, because they have told you it’s “voluntary”, that you are “free to leave” at any stage, that the case isn’t really all that serious!
Perhaps, the police even tell you it’s “nothing to worry” about!
We are increasingly alarmed by these things and what we hear from clients that contact us after their voluntary interview. The reason why we are so concerned is because so many of these clients of ours have been lulled into a false sense of security, relying on the fact that they just because they hadn’t been arrested, the “chat” under police caution wasn’t that serious.
To say that this is a recipe for disaster is an understatement.
Voluntary police interview under caution
There is no real difference in law between a voluntary police interview under caution (the “friendly chat”) and when someone has been arrested. The only difference is that when you’ve been arrested, you naturally realise the seriousness of what is happening and realise that you probably need legal advice. When you are there voluntarily, it never seems that serious – after all you can get up and leave at any stage can’t you?
The biggest advantage for the police with voluntary interviews, is because it’s cheaper to process “suspects” and they don’t tend to get the legal advice that they are entitled to. This benefits the police and can be so damaging for the suspect, a criminal defence solicitor is there to protect a person’s rights. It’s easy to forget that the law gives you rights for a reason, they are to protect you when you are being accused of an offence.
By the time the voluntary interview is finished, the damage can be done. The interview is recorded on tape, there is a record of that. Many of our clients have already dug their own hole by the time they contact us, not because they may have even done anything wrong but because their words may have been twisted, taken out of context, been pressured into saying something that they didn’t mean. All of this is preventable when your rights are protected and you have specialist legal advice by your side.
Now, legal advice at the Police Station is free – as you are going in by “arrangement” and for an “appointment”, it is sensible to make sure that you have a specialist with you. A specialist that is on your side, that is there to look after you – after all, when it’s your future that is at stake, and the police are investigating you for being involved in a criminal case, do you want to leave your future to chance and in the hands of the very people that already think you are guilty?
If you have been contacted by the Police and are asked to attend for an interview under caution, the police suspect you of committing a criminal offence, you are entitled to free legal advice. As independent experts, we can help guide you through this process so don’t delay, contact us immediately, we can arrange for you to be represented by a specialist whatever the offence and wherever the interview.