What is a Voluntary Interview?
Many suspects are arrested for the purpose of interview. However the test as to whether an arrest may be made is whether it is necessary for a prompt and effective investigation. There are circumstances where the Police may wish to speak to someone in respect of a matter but it is possibly doubtful as to whether an arrest is necessary.
It will not stop an arrest taking place in urgent circumstances, but where a suspect indicates that they would be willing to attend the Police Station for an interview this may remove the necessity for an arrest.
Any interview will be recorded and take place under Caution meaning that it may be used in evidence.
Does it mean that the matter is not serious?
Absolutely not. It is simply a question whether an arrest is necessary. Just because the matter is dealt with by Voluntary Interview does not mean that the Police are taking the matter lightly and suspects should not be lulled into a false sense of security. Indeed it is very common for the Police to ask suspects to agree to a Voluntary Interview for offences such as historical allegations of Sexual Abuse and Rape. It may also be used when dealing with young people or people who may be vulnerable if they were to be arrested. Another useful way in which it can be used is in rural areas or areas where the local Police Station no longer accepts people under arrest. For example a suspect may be invited for an interview at Spalding, Bourne or Holbeach Police Station rather than arrest someone to take them to be booked in at Boston Police Station and then interviewed there.
Does it mean that I will not be Charged?
Again the answer is no. It is no less likely that you will be charged with an offence. It will depend on the evidence against you and as explained above your answers in interview will potentially form part of that evidence.
Do I need a Solicitor?
The choice is yours. You can be interviewed without a Solicitor if you wish. However, the Police will need to advise you at the start of the interview of your right to free and independent legal advice. The Police will need to give your Solicitor disclosure which means they will tell the Solicitor about the matter and about what they need to ask about. The Solicitor will then be able to discuss this with you in private and find out your version of events and then offer advice whether to exercise your right to remain silent, whether to answer the questions or whether to issue a prepared statement. The Solicitor will also be present throughout the interview to ensure that you are questioned fairly and that you have the opportunity to put forward any relevant information. Even if you have done what the Police suspect, a Solicitor will be able to advise you as to the likely outcome and make representations to the Police about alternative disposals other than going to Court such as a Caution, Fixed Penalty or Restorative Resolution.
Do I look guilty if I ask for a Solicitor?
Absolutely not. Anyone who is interviewed will be told they are entitled to free and independent legal advice. It cannot and will not be held against you if you ask for a Solicitor. Indeed it is likely to reduce the chance of you being charged.
Will it delay things?
Again this is unlikely. If it is a Voluntary Interview the Police can just arrange it to take place at a time that is suitable to the Officer dealing with it, the suspect and the Solicitor.
Is it really free?
Yes. Advice in respect of a Police Station Investigation is free. Solicitors are paid by the Legal Aid Agency. There is no financial test to qualify for advice in respect of Voluntary Interviews with the Police.
If you are asked to attend for a Voluntary Interview please do not hesitate to contact us to arrange for us to attend with you. If you are arrested when being booked in at the Police Station you will be asked whether you wish to have a Solicitor and if you request Maples then we will be informed of your detention and will be able to attend to represent you. If you do have any further queries in respect of Voluntary Interviews or any other aspect of a Police Investigation please contact either Daven Naghen or Anita Toal on 01775722261 or email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org