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Voluntary Police Interview Explained

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Have You Been Called For An Interview?

If you have been notified that you must attend an interview, contact SJB Legal Consultants Ltd for advice.

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How To Prepare

What Is A Voluntary Police Interview?

Interviews as a volunteer are sometimes 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 upon occasions and is used by some police officers; however, all terms have the same meaning.

Alternatively to 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 who would then, in turn, 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, which 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 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.

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What To Expect

What Happens DuringThe Interview?

When attending, it is important to know your legal rights still apply for a caution plus 3 interview which are that:

  • You may leave at any time
  • You are not under arrest
  • You can have a lawyer to assist you
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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 an interview 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 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 an interview goes ahead. You must seek advice on this before you make a decision.

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What To Do Next

What Happens After The Interview?

Once interviewed by the police, the officer dealing will then refer the matter to their sergeant to review and make a decision. It maybe the case that you are offered a community resolution or a police caution based on admissions made in interview to the offence. You must seek advice on this as even accepting a caution can potentially affect your life and career prospects.

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 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.
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"Steve remained very concise and detailed when explaining the situation to my partner and I. He made sure that we knew what was going on and how the interview will go. He also advised us on the possibilities I could take in this interview, which action was the better option, and the possible outcomes should we follow said route. The experience with Steve was very structured and professional. I felt like he knew what he was doing and even prompted some questions of his own during the interview with police permission, which I found extremely useful at elaborating on my case. I would definitively recommend Mr Bunker!"

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