‘Just a chat’ – that dangers of voluntary interviews with police
Have you been asked to attend a voluntary interview with the police, just for a chat?
‘Just a chat’, ‘nothing to worry about’, ‘just procedure’… are some of the things you could hear from the police if your accused of a criminal offence that the police would like to speak to you about.
Due to various reasons such as budget cuts, low staffing levels and closures of police custody suites, we have seen a dramatic rise in the amount of people asked to attend voluntary interviews with police, many of which have never had any involvement with the police, are young, vulnerable or have mental health issues. It is often more convenient for the police to bring people like this into their local police for ‘a chat’ about the allegation.
This chat will usually be a tape recorded interview which ‘may be used in evidence’ if the case was to ever go to court. It is often the case that people, feeling they have done nothing wrong will attend these interviews and speak freely with the police without obtaining free legal advice. This was highlighted by the case of Nicola Bailey who found £20 on the floor and kept it. She was identified by CCTV and asked to attend one of these voluntary interviews. She attended without a solicitor and had no recollection of picking up the money. It had apparently been caught on CCTV and due to her not accepting finding the money she was taken to court where she received a conditional discharge, court costs and, more importantly a criminal record for a dishonest offence.
Free & independent advice
Miss Bailey, in an interview with a national paper was reported as saying , ‘I wish that I had been represented at the police station as I probably would not have ended up in this mess’.
We have a long history of 24hr 365 days a year police station advice and attendances. We have helped some of the most vulnerable people in society and people accused of serious crimes. It’s extremely important to us that people understand their right to have free and independent legal advice when they are being questioned by the police.
There are real benefits to all parties when people are asked to attend as a volunteer. The main one being that people won’t see the inside of a custody suite or cell and it is a fairly quick and harmless process. This doesn’t prevent you from having the same rights as someone who has been arrested and you should always ask for a solicitor to be present when you are interviewed.
And this is the part that really upsets us all! We are free! It’s just the cost of a phone call (and you can usually get the police officer to make that!). Our team has considerable experience with police interviews and can attend as and when is convenient to you.
You are also more likely to be more relaxed and able to answer questions clearly if you have attended on appointment rather than be dragged from your house at 7am by a police officer.
You would therefore be more equipped to deal with the questions from the police giving you a better chance of avoiding court proceedings.
If you are asked to attend a police station to speak to a police officer then please contact us so that we can attend with you.
Checklist if asked to attend for voluntary attendance with the police:
If you are asked to attend a police interview as a volunteer you should:-
- Tell the police officer you intend to take legal advice and instruct Levins Solicitors – (there won’t be a problem with this at all)
- Contact us on 0151 480 5777 and arrange for us to attend the interview with you. We will then liaise with the police on your behalf to find a suitable time and date for interview.
- We will attend with you at the police station. We will speak to the police and find out the details of the allegation and evidence against you. We will then speak to you privately to get you side of events and plan for the interview. We will attend the interview with you and remain with you at the police station until the end of the interview process.
- Post interview, keep in touch with us until the police make a decision on what to do. The police can often take several months to make a decision on whether you are to face prosecution and, by keeping in touch we can walk you through the entire process.