News

Voluntary Interviews

Posted: 23 November 2023

In the last decade, the number of arrests made by the Police have halved. A study produced by the UK Home Office shows that in 2010, 1.3 million arrests were made falling to 632,000 in 2021. Among the many reasons for this decrease such as budget cuts, low staffing and the closure of police custodies, one of the most significant contributors is the rise of voluntary interviews.

What is a voluntary interview?

A voluntary interview is a formal conversation with the police that typically takes place at the police station under caution. These interviews are utilised by the police when they are conducting a criminal investigation and suspect your involvement in a criminal offence.

Whilst a voluntary interview may seem informal compared to an arrest, what you say in interview is extremely important as it will be recorded and can be used as evidence in court if criminal proceedings were to commence.

When attending a voluntary interview, it is important to note that you are not under arrest and can leave the interview at any time. However, although you not under arrest, if you refuse to take part or attend, they may arrest you to perform the interview in custody.

Do I need a solicitor?

Although you have not been arrested, a voluntary interview is no less serious that a standard police interview under arrest. The police suspect that you may have committed a criminal offence and what you say, or do not say in interview can be used in court against you if you were to be charged. Therefore, it is important to have a legal representative present to advise you.

The services of a legal aid solicitor are free and they are independent from the police. The police will provide your solicitor with ‘disclosure’ which outlines the allegation made against you. You are permitted a private consultation with your solicitor to discuss the allegation and disclosure document. Your solicitor will then provide you with advice about the law and set out the avenues that you can take in your interview. Thereafter, your solicitor will remain with you during interview to protect your legal interests and provide any further advice.

To avoid any delay, you should let the police know prior to your interview that you would like a solicitor or contact a solicitor to arrange representation.

What happens after the interview?

After interview, the outcomes can vary. You may be told by the police that they are taking no action against you, or they may continue to make enquiries in relation to the matter until a decision can be made. If the police decide to pursue a case against you, they will report you for summons and you will receive a postal requisition to attend a hearing at the Magistrates Court.

Contact us

It is essential that you have legal representation in police interview. If you have been invited to attend a voluntary interview, please contact our criminal defence team at our Chelmsford, Braintree, Ipswich or Benfleet office, send an email or call 01268 792994.

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