Legal eagle: Voluntary police interviews

Interview room
Interview room
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I have been told that the police want to speak to me about allegations against me. They say that they aren’t going to arrest me and I don’t need a solicitor. Do I have to speak to them? If I do, am I allowed to have a solicitor with me and how much will that cost?

It sounds like the police wish to interview you as a Voluntary Attendee. This means that whilst you won’t be arrested and detained, you will be formally interviewed under caution for the allegations you face. An interview under caution is different to providing the police with a witness statement or account, in that you are being investigated for a criminal offence.

You don’t have to meet with the police, but if you don’t agree to be interviewed at a convenient time they are likely to consider arresting you. They will have to think about whether it is necessary to and they can justify arresting you on a number of grounds which include to progress the investigation against you. It is therefore usually advisable to agree to meet with the police at a mutually convenient time, wherever that is possible.

As you are being interviewed under caution, you are entitled to a solicitor regardless of the police officer’s opinion as to whether you need one. A solicitor will be able to protect and advance your legal rights and advise you as to the strength of any evidence against you and your options in your interview. It is completely free of charge to have a solicitor present when you are being interviewed by the police whether or not this takes place at a police station. The police are not entitled to treat you differently if you have legal representation.

An interview under caution can be a complicated legal process and can significantly impact upon the investigation and the outcome of the case if it goes to court. It is clearly in your best interests to have appropriate legal advice at that stage.

You will need to find a representative who is qualified to advise you at the police station- this is not something every solicitor can do but nearly all criminal defence specialists will be appropriately qualified and experienced and able to assist you. Call a criminal defence solicitor as soon as possible - they will be able to help to arrange your interview, discuss your case and will be with you at your interview.

l Ben Hoare Bell LLP has specialist Criminal Defence Solicitors across the North East who are accredited to represent you at the police station. To speak to a Solicitor please ring 0191 565 3112 or email advice@benhoarebell.co.uk. Visit www.benhoarebell.co.uk for more information.