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Being invited to an interview under caution
The following information is a basic guide and is not a substitute for legal advice. Where appropriate, you should seek your own independent legal advice if you are invited to an interview under caution.
Interviews under caution
There is no express legal requirement that a person suspected of having committed an offence must be interviewed under caution before any decision as to whether to prosecute is taken. However, we do have a duty to allow a suspect the opportunity to answer the allegations against them and give their own account before a decision on prosecution is made.
Why have I been asked to attend an interview under caution?
If you have been asked to attend an interview under caution it will be because we believe that there are grounds to suspect that you have committed a criminal offence. This does not mean that we believe that you are guilty and will automatically prosecute you; it means that the evidence we have obtained to date indicates that you may be involved in the offence and able to assist with enquiries.
The purpose of the interview will give you the opportunity to provide an explanation of the events. However, if we find any evidence during the interview that you have committed an offence, you may be prosecuted.
Do I have to attend an interview?
No, but if you do not attend it will not prevent us from taking further action, such as prosecuting you.
If you do not attend the interview we will consider the evidence we have and make a decision on further action without the benefit of your own account.
If the offence is imprisonable, and you do not attend an interview voluntarily, you may be arrested by the police and the interview conducted by our officers at a police station.
Don't ignore the letter inviting you to the interview.
Throughout the interview you have rights and entitlements, including the right to silence, which will be explained at the start of the interview.
Who can come to the interview with me?
You can have a solicitor or legal advisor with you in the interview.
You may bring with you someone who is not connected to the investigation. This may be a friend, a social worker or a relative.
If the person attending the interview with you is not a solicitor or qualified legal advisor, then they will not be able to speak, answer questions for you or provide you with advice.
If you have a severe hearing impairment or English is not your first language (and you have difficulty in understanding and answering in English), we will arrange for a translator to be present. Please advise us of your requirements.
We do not have childcare facilities and will not interview you if you have a dependant child with you at the time of the interview.
Who will interview me?
One or two officers will usually interview you. These officers are trained to carry out interviews under caution.
Sometimes we do joint investigations with other agencies, such as the police. If there has been a joint investigation in your case, you may be interviewed by an officer from the Council and an officer from the other agency.
Do I get free legal advice?
For voluntary interviews conducted by non-police investigators, the provision of legal advice is set out by the Legal Aid Agency in the Standard Crime Contract Specification. The rules mean that a non-police interviewer who does not have their own statutory power of arrest would have to inform a suspect that they have a right to seek legal advice if they wish, but payment would be a matter for them to arrange with the solicitor.
What happens at the interview?
Before we ask any questions our officers will explain some things to you, including:
that the interview is being recorded on tape or CD
that the interview is being conducted in accordance with the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 and the relevant Codes of Practice
that you can consult the Codes of Practice
you will be cautioned and advised of your rights (that you are not under arrest, that you are free to leave the interview at any time and that you may seek legal advice at any time)
an explanation of why you have been asked to attend the interview and details of the offence under investigation
At the end of the interview you will be asked to sign an adhesive paper seal, which will be used to seal one of the recording media.
Can a company suspected of committing a criminal offence be interviewed under caution?
Where an organisation or company is invited to attend an interview under caution, the company will be asked to nominate a person to attend the interview to answer questions on its behalf. Where the person being interviewed has been nominated to speak on behalf of a company (in effect that person is the company for the purposes of the interview under caution), the investigators may wish to satisfy themselves that the person has the authority to answer questions on behalf of the company. That authority can only be granted by the board. The nominated person attending may be asked to bring their written authorisation so that it can be referred to in the interview.
Did you know?
The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 sets out the powers and duties of the police and other investigators in respect of the investigation of offences. It also sets out the rights of suspects and the admissibility of evidence. The Act is supported by Codes of Practice, which set out the standards to be applied when exercising and carrying out the relevant powers and duties. Code C covers the requirements for the treatment and questioning of suspects.
Persons other than police officers who are charged with the duty of investigating offences or charging offenders are under a duty to have regard to any relevant provisions of the Codes of Practice (section 67 of the Act).