When being asked to attend a voluntary/caution plus 3 police interview, legal advice is a must. It is important to understand that a voluntary or caution plus 3 police interview is actually an interview whereby you are a suspect in a criminal investigation. The interview is no different to when you are arrested, and the same caution still applies in 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.”
Your main rights are outlined in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE), codes of practice. You must be informed that:
- You are not under arrest
- You are free to leave at any time (albeit if you do they will consider whether there is a necessity to arrest)
- You are entitled to legal advice
In my experience in dealing with these types of interviews on a daily basis, it has become apparent that most officers will play down this process and make you feel like you are attending to simply assist in their investigation – YOU ARE NOT.
It is also questionable as to whether your rights are properly administered over a quick phone call to invite you in. This is again different to being arrested and taken into a custody suite whereby the booking in process is carefully monitored.
You may also be informed that if you do not comply with this process, then you may be arrested. This then defeats the idea of it being a voluntary process and makes it that of a compulsory one. Furthermore, even if invited in for what you believe to be a voluntary police interview process, it may become apparent that there is a necessity to arrest upon arrival in accordance which Code G of the PACE.
The lesson here is to, therefore, have legal representation by your side from the very outset when first contacted by the police.