What’s a voluntary police interview – and should you go to it?
Imagine this –
Your neighbour has a beef with you and it all came to a head a couple of weeks ago. Words were exchanged – and maybe there was a push.
You get a phone call from a police officer who is “inviting” you to come to the police station for a “chat”.
You think it can’t be *that* serious, otherwise, they would have arrested you.
Maybe you also think that you’re not the one who needs a lawyer, because you are innocent.
Because your only previous involvement with the police is when you have reported other people for crimes, you ask if your father/mother/brother/sister/friend can come with you.
Stop trying to out-think the police and get a criminal lawyer
What you really need to be doing is finding a police station accredited lawyer to advise you before you go to the police station. This is because you are not being asked for a “chat”. The police suspect you have committed a crime – and they are building a case against YOU.
By instructing a police station lawyer before you go to the police station, you can tell your them what happened – and they can advise you whether you should talk, not talk, give a prepared statement or not go to the interview at all.
By “police station lawyer”, I mean Criminal law solicitor – or someone who has achieved the police station adviser accreditation.
(I’m sometimes asked if I can be a person’s police station lawyer. Barristers are prohibited from advising at the police station unless they get this additional qualification. Because I am a trial lawyer, I do not advise people at police stations – but, as a trial lawyer, I cannot emphasise enough how important it is to get advice before you speak to the police.)
What if you don’t hire a lawyer before you go to the police station?
You are playing high stakes poker and don’t even realise it. See my previous post, “Should I go no comment at my police station interview” for a glimpse into how these interviews are a minefield. Legal advice at this critical stage can mean the difference between being charged for a crime v no further action being taken.
If you do not hire a lawyer before going to the police station, ask for the Duty Solicitor as soon as you get to the police station. The Duty Solicitor is not the police’s lawyer. They are defence solicitors on a police station free legal advice rota. It’s free legal advice and there is no reason why you shouldn’t take it.
My simple tip
Ask for the Duty Solicitor. Even if the police make it sound like their chat is no big deal. Even if it will take an hour for a Duty Solicitor to arrive. Even if you are innocent. You need a lawyer.