How does a voluntary interview or caution plus 3 interview work?
Updated: Mar 7
If you have been contacted by the police to come in for a voluntary interview, please understand that it is not just an informal meeting. The police might make it sound minor by saying “we just need to have a chat”, but a formal allegation has been made against you, therefore you are a suspect and you are now under investigation by the police.
But there is no need to panic, your defence starts now. My best advice is to be proactive, start preparing and consider getting a solicitor involved as early as possible.
Don’t ignore it, if you don’t respond to the police contact, or fail to attend the interview then at some point the police will come and arrest you, probably early one morning when you least expect it. Once arrested you end up being taken to the police station and you will get formally booked into custody, which could mean ending up in the cells.
Be prepared, the days before the interview are a real window of opportunity to prepare your defence. You don’t want to be sitting in interview when it’s all going wrong thinking “I wish I’d prepared better for this”. Think about what allegation is being made and what your version of events is. Think about any evidence or witnesses you have that can help you. Do your research and see if you have a defence that can be raised in interview.
If you instruct a private solicitor, the disclosure (this is the details of the allegation), can be obtained from the police in advance of the interview. You can then meet your solicitor to discuss your case and plan your defence, so you are fully prepared for the interview. On the day, your solicitor should attend with you and advise you throughout.
When you attend you are not under arrest, so there is no risk of being in the cells, you are free to leave at any time, and after the interview you will leave immediately.
When you are contacted by the police, they may offer you the duty solicitor, it is free and arranged by the police. With a legal aid or duty solicitor it is very unlikely you will get any advice before the day of the interview as the funding just isn’t there to do proactive preparation. Also, you might not get a real solicitor, legal aid firms often use paralegals and junior employees for police station work. During the covid restrictions there is also no guarantee the duty or legal aid lawyer will attend, they may just give you advice on the phone when you get to the police station.
It’s your case, if you can afford a private solicitor like me to do the early advice and preparation, and to attend with you on the day then great, but if not then just be as prepared as you can be, and make sure you turn up!
To learn about what happens in interview or after your release please read my other blogs.