What should I do in the police interview under caution?
Updated: Mar 7
So what happens in a police interview under caution?
Forget what you have seen on TV, there is no shouting, table thumping or cool mood lighting. It is just a small room with the police asking you questions and recording your answers.
In the room will be one or two police officers, you, your solicitor (if you have one) and, if required, an interpreter and an appropriate adult. Appropriate adults are required to assist communication for youths and those with mental health or learning difficulties.
The interview is the police opportunity to ask you questions about the allegation. It is also your opportunity to give your side of the story and put forward any evidence that supports your case.
However, always remember, it is your right to say nothing. This is very important, especially if you are actually responsible for the offence. Any case has to be proven against you, so why just admit it? The police might not have enough evidence to prove the case, if you admit it then you are just helping the police prove the case.
Admitting the offence might make you feel better, but it can land you in court with a conviction. Unless there is a caution available (similar to getting a warning) then it generally isn’t a good idea to admit any offence.
If you do have a good account to give, then you should give it by answering the questions and putting forward your version of events. If you have an alibi, if you have a defence, if you have witnesses, now is the time to tell the police, it could close the case.
But be careful, the police often withhold evidence to try and catch you out during interview, so be sure your defence is strong before talking in interview.
The third option is to hand over a prepared statement, this is a short written statement detailing your defence, it is read out or handed over during the interview and then you say nothing, you do not answer any questions, as you have given your account in the statement. This option can be useful, it can control the interview so you don’t say too much, and it can be a good option if you are nervous about answering questions.
Ideally, to help you make the right decision about which option is best you will have an experienced solicitor like me there who can:
- Speak to the police before the interview to get as much information as possible about the allegation.
- Advise you whether to speak or not.
- Draft a prepared statement for you.
- Intervene in interview if it is not going as planned.
- Challenge the police and protect you from making damaging admissions.
- Make sure you get all your best points across and introduce any evidence that supports your case.
The police may offer you the duty solicitor, it is free and arranged by the police. However, with a legal aid or duty solicitor you might not get a real solicitor, to cut costs legal aid firms often use paralegals, legal representatives 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 before the interview, and then just be on speakerphone during the interview.
It’s your case, if you can afford it get a private solicitor like me to do the early advice and preparation, and to attend with you on the day and advise you throughout, but if not then just be as prepared as you can be.
To learn about what happens after your release please read my other blogs.