What is a police caution?

A police caution is a formal notice which differs to when the police interview you under caution. A police caution is issued by a police officer in the event that you have committed a criminal offence and admitted it.

A caution does not count as a criminal conviction, but it can be used as character evidence if you go to court for another offence.

Police cautions can show on both standard and enhanced DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) checks.

What is an interview under caution?

If you are suspected of having committed or being involved in committing a criminal offence (including certain road traffic offences) then, by law, you must be cautioned by the police before any questions can be put to you.

This means that a police officer (or other investigating officer) must state a phrase to you, prior to your interview:

‘You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defence if you do not mention, when questioned, something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence’.

What you do or do not say during a police interview is therefore extremely important in determining the outcome of the police’s investigation and deciding what action – if any – may be taken against you.

Your right to legal advice

You are entitled to free and independent legal advice and representation at a police interview if:

  1. You have been arrested
  2. You are going to be arrested
  3. You have been informed that the police wish to interview you on a voluntary basis

This is an important entitlement to protect your basic legal rights throughout the police interview process.

What is a voluntary interview?

A voluntary police interview – also known as voluntary attendance or ‘Caution plus three’- typically takes place at a police station, although it can also take take place at your place of work or even at your home.

If you are invited to a voluntary interview, you are not under arrest. The interview will be recorded and it will take place under caution, so it can be used as evidence.

As a volunteer interviewee, you have the right to request and receive independent legal advice and you are free to leave the police station at any time, unless you are then arrested.

What to do if you face a police interview

Whether you are facing a police interview under caution or you have been invited to a voluntary interview, you are advised to seek expert legal representation as soon as you are able to do so.

At Lawtons our team of highly experienced legal representatives are available 24 hours a day and 7 seven days a week throughout the year to represent you. Get in touch with us for expert legal advice and assistance.

Nb. This guide is intended to give general information only and not intended to be used as the basis upon which advice is given, nor should it be relied upon as giving advice specific to a case or individual. Lawtons do not accept liability for anyone using this guide. Should you require specific advice in connection with a real case or situation, please contact us immediately so that we can provide specific advice.