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Whether you have been arrested during an incident, or the police have turned up at your home and asked you to accompany them, the initial interview at a police station is in many ways the crucial moment of a criminal investigation.
Most police station interviews will be carried out under caution, or after you have already been arrested on suspicion of committing one or more offences. What you say, or what you do not say can have a huge impact on whether or not you are charged with an offence.
If you are attending a police station for an interview, ask for Canter Levin & Berg Solicitors as soon as you get there. Everyone in the UK is entitled to free legal representation if they are being interviewed by the police. Tell the police your solicitors are Canter Levin & Berg - we are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year – call now on 0151 239 1000.
A police station interview is an interview that is usually carried out as part of a police investigation into an alleged criminal offence. Most police interviews in England and Wales will be carried out whilst you are being detained at a police station following your arrest.
Having said that, there are also times when you might be asked to accompany police to the station ‘for a chat’, or you might arrange to attend a police station voluntarily to co-operate with a police investigation.
At the start of the police station interview you will be read a Caution. This caution is a vitally important part of any Police Station interview as it informs you of your rights during the interview process. The standard form of caution used by the Police is as follows:
"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."
As well as receiving a caution, your interview at a police station should be recorded on tape, or digitally, so that there is a record of what was said and by whom.
You should be aware that referring to the interview as ‘a chat’ is a tactic sometimes used by the police to lull you into a false sense of security. Whenever you are asked to attend a police station, contact an independent solicitor with experience in criminal law.
If you attend an interview without the benefit of legal representation from a fully qualified solicitor, you could find yourself in a very difficult situation or even facing a miscarriage of justice.
During the police station interview, the police officers will ask questions regarding your involvement, or suspected involvement, in a criminal offence.
The actual questions you are asked in a police station interview will depend on the type of offence you have been charged with and whether you were arrested whilst an incident was taking place, or as part of the police’s ongoing investigations.
If you have been arrested at the scene of an incident, then you might get asked about events which led up to the alleged offence, or whether anyone else was present. In situations where you have been arrested later on, as part of a police investigation, you might be asked about your whereabouts at the time the offence was alleged to have happened, or if you knew anyone else involved, including the victims (if there were any) and any other suspects.
What you say in response to questions by the police during your interview will very much depend on the individual circumstances of the case and the allegations you are facing.
There are, generally speaking, three options available to you when faced with questions from the police. Your legal representative should be able to explain each of these options to you as well as their pros and cons.
Your first option during an interview is to answer the questions the police ask you. This gives you the opportunity to put forward your defence at the earliest opportunity and it can also lead to further police investigations, which may prove your innocence.
On the other hand, answering the questions you are asked by the police might not be the best course of action if you are unsure of what you want to say, or if you think you might say something that will incriminate you.
After all, the police officers conducting your interview will have been trained in techniques to get you to offer more information than you might have intended to and they will also be looking to get you to make a mistake which could weaken your case later on.
Your second option in a police station interview is to remain silent during questioning, or simply to say “no comment” when asked questions by the police. This approach does come with some risks, as it can cause damage to your case if you don’t mention anything during the police station interview that you later rely on in court. This could lead the court into thinking that you concocted your version of events after the police interview.
There are however, some benefits to remaining silent. In a situation where the police are short of evidence, then refusing to offer any additional information yourself can lead to the case against you being dropped at an early stage of the investigation.
Making no comment is often also used as a tactic to guard against the possibility of making a genuine mistake when answering questions from the police. Any genuine mistake could be made to look like an intentional lie later on in court so not comment means this cannot happen.
The third option for people faced with a police station interview is to read from a prepared statement. If you choose this option, then it is usually the case that, after you’ve finished reading from your statement, you will answer “no comment” to any further questions from the police.
Reading from a prepared statement can be a useful way to present your version of events, without the risk that you’ll be ambushed or taken off-guard by unexpected questions from the police officers conducting your interview.
However, a prepared statement can still pose some problems if, for example, the police introduce evidence later on in your interview that contradicts your version of events.
The police may attempt to get you to disclose more information than you want or have to, by saying that they “just want to hear your side of the story”, or by saying they are neutral in the matter. This isn’t the case - the police are not neutral and will be looking to charge you for an offence if they can get you to volunteer enough information – information that they might not otherwise have been able to uncover.
Not having the benefit of independent legal representation at a police station interview can mean that you might incriminate yourself without actually realising it, or without knowing the full range of legal options you have available to you, or even whether you have to answer certain questions.
Everyone who is being interviewed by the police at a police station can request a legal representative of their choice to attend the police station to represent them. This representative, such as one of the Criminal Law Solicitors here at Canter Levin & Berg, can provide you with advice and outline your legal options before, during and after your police station interview.
If our solicitors are present at your police interview, they will protect your interests and make sure that the interview is carried out by the police in a fair and proper manner.
What happens after the police station interview will depend to some extent on whether you were interviewed after being arrested, or whether you attended the police station voluntarily.
Under the terms of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, there are strict time limits which govern how long a person can be detained by the police following their arrest. Usually this is 24 hours, but it can be extended to 36 hours if a senior police officer authorises it, or up to 72 hours if the police notify a Magistrates’ Court and that court grants an extension to the detention time.
The police can only continue to detain you if there is a justification for doing so. Generally speaking, before the time limit for your detention expires, the police will have to choose one of four possible courses of action:
Your legal representative will be able to provide you with advice about what decisions the police might take following your police station interview. They will also be able to tell you what your options are if you are bailed, charged, or if you are told you will receive a caution.
If you need an independent legal representative to accompany you at a police station interview on Merseyside, you can contact Canter Levin & Berg Solicitors now on 0151 239 1000, or you can inform the police you’d like to contact us. Our solicitors are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to provide you with expert legal advice and support when you need it most.