Few people realise that when officers from a regulatory body such as the Health and Safety Executive, the Environment Agency or Trading Standards come knocking, they could well arrive with a warrant for your arrest and the power to seize your records and equipment.
Even if you are not arrested, you will be interviewed under caution. Knowing what to do, who to speak to and what your rights are is an important matter.
Here’s our top ten pieces of advice you should remember if you suddenly hear the words “you do not have to say anything but it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence”.
- 1)You’re under caution, a tape isn’t running, so say nothing. As per the police caution above, you do not have to say anything. And it is our number one piece of advice that you say nothing upon hearing those words, nothing in the car on the way to the station and nothing in the custody suite as you are being booked in.
- The investigators are highly unlikely to release a person because they start explaining all about the circumstances in the car on the way to the interview, but they will record what you are saying in their note books.
- 2)Phone a friend. You have the right to tell a person where you are either directly over the phone or via the investigating officer. The investigator might try to withhold this right if they think that you are going to prejudice their enquiries by alerting other people to the possibility that they might be spoken to too. If they do, then don’t forget the advice below and get your solicitor onto the investigat
or so you can speak to a friend or family member as soon as possible.
- 3)Legal advice at the point of interview under caution is free. That right starts immediately upon arrest and continues until you are released.
- 4)You can only be held for 24 hours. Most offences have to be dealt with within 24 hours from the time you are booked into the custody area. The investigators can apply to extend that time for serious offences, but they must justify this and their superiors must listen to our arguments against extending the custody time limit.
- 5)Speak to a solicitor on the phone. You have the right to legal advice from the moment you are arrested. Often, the investigators will let you speak to a solicitor by phone immediately, or if not, they must allow you to speak to a solicitor from the police station.
- 6)You have the right to legal advice over the telephone throughout your time in custody. Use that right.
- 7)Obtain a copy of the custody
record. A custody record is created when a suspect is booked into custody. Every person who is in custody has one. It contains lots of information, for example, the exact time of your arrest, the property you were carrying, the investigating officer’s details and details of the offence which is being investigated. It is a crucial document, and it is yours. So ask for it and study it carefully.
- 8)Don’t give the police any evidence that you don’t have to provide. The police can take certain forensic samples from you, such as fingerprints and a photograph, but others require your consent, which you are legally allowed to withdraw. Get some legal advice on this, and the consequences of refusing to provide a sample before committing to it.
- 9)Request a solicitor for your interview. Your solicitor will be given disclosure about the investigation. The investigator must tell your solicitor what the offence is, what the evidence is, what you are going to be aske
d about and whether anyone else is being investigated. A good solicitor will be able to obtain all sorts of information about the case and the evidence. The investigator then must to give you and the solicitor some time alone in private so your solicitor can tell you what they know and you can discuss the case and plan an interview strategy.
- The police won’t tell you any of the above if you don’t ask for a solicitor.
- 10)Don’t like your solicitor? Get another one. If you have serious misgivings about your solicitor just ask for another one. It is your right to obtain alternative legal advice or representation at any point when you are in custody. Don’t go into the interview relying on someone you have no faith in.
- 11)Don’t get arrested. The investigator can interview you under caution without arresting you and they often will do as it saves them time and paperwork. It also saves you from failing an enhanced CRB / DBS check next time you app
ly for a job. If you hear that an agency want to speak to you, call me and I will arrange a voluntary interview. I have arranged many voluntary interviews over the years for professional people and I have some good case law up my sleeve which always helps to focus the investigating officer’s mind.
- 12)You do not have to say anything. Yes, this is similar advice as number 1, but it is so important I have to repeat it. In an interview, you have the right against self-incrimination. The right to silence. Without doubt the most potent weapon available to any person investigated for any offence.
If you are being investigated for any regulatory or complex criminal offence, please call Ison Harrison.