Voluntary Interview at the Police Station

May 15, 2017

When does a Voluntary Interview take place?

In the past, people attended the police station almost exclusively under arrest.  However, increasingly we are seeing the proper use of “voluntary interviews”.  Proper use, because the test as to whether someone should be arrested is whether it is necessary for a prompt and effective investigation.  There are many cases where this is simply not the case.

Obviously, the term voluntary interview can be a little misleading.  Often people are left in little doubt that if they do not attend “voluntarily” then they will be arrested instead for the purposes of the police progressing their investigation.   Nevertheless, it does give a person contacted by the police some advantages, in terms of being able to attend at a date and time that might be more convenient to them.  Also, in terms of being able to contact a solicitor in advance of the interview.

Is a voluntary interview a real police interview?

Yes.  Legally, the status of the interview is exactly the same as if you had been arrested.  The process could relate to very serious allegations and the interview will take place under police caution.

This does mean that you have the same rights as someone who had been arrested, including the right to free legal advice & representation in any interview.

What will the outcome of the Voluntary Interview be?

This will obviously depend on the status of the investigation.  In the vast majority of cases, the immediate outcome will be that after the interview you will be allowed to leave and will be informed that you will be notified of the progress of the investigation in due course.  Whilst it is rare to be charged immediately following an interview, you are no less likely to be charged as a result of the investigation being concluded than if you had been arrested in the first place.  It is just that, if the police considered that the investigation was proceeding at a pace that it meant it was not necessary to arrest you at the outset – depending what you say in interview – the investigation will probably not be completed as a result of your voluntary interview and they will need to take further steps to complete the investigation.

Should I be represented at a Voluntary Interview?

Yes.  Whilst the choice is yours, you would be giving up your right to free representation if you did not request a solicitor to be present.  The risks of making a mistake in interview could affect the rest of your life.  Why would you not avail yourself of free advice from a qualified representative?  Often, when under arrest, people in custody are informed that having a solicitor attend will delay their interview and prolong their stay in custody.   However, this objection does not apply in the case of voluntary interviews, when you can arrange the time that your solicitor will attend with you.

A solicitor will advise you as to the sense in either answering questions or deciding not to do so.  In some cases, you might not answer questions, if you were nervous about doing so, but could instead prepare a statement setting out your position in relation to the matters that the police wish to interview you about.

A solicitor will also be able to advise you about alternatives to the prospect of being charged, such as accepting a police caution – and advise you on the implications of so doing.  You are less likely to be charged with an offence if you are properly advised.

Tuckers can advise you on the procedural steps relating to attending at a Voluntary Interview and can arrange representation for you at any police station in the country.  Just contact us on any one of our local numbers or on our national number 0845 200 3367 or contact us by email at policeadminteam@tuckerssolicitors.com and they will refer you to your most local representative.

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