The practice of asking potential suspects to attend a police station ‘voluntarily’ is becoming an increasingly popular alternative to arrest.
Instead of arresting a potential suspect that they wish to interview, police are contacting them and requesting that they attend the police station at a time and date to be agreed.
Going to a police station as a ‘voluntary attender’ in order to answer questions about a suspected offence does have obvious advantages over being arrested.
You are not under arrest and can leave the police station at any time; however this does not prevent the police arresting you if you attempt to leave!
Many people given this option by the police do not realise that they still have the same rights and legal entitlements as those who are taken to the police station under arrest.
One of these entitlements is free and independent legal advice.
Those attending voluntarily may only be made aware of their right to legal representation once they are at the police station. At that point, they may feel awkward or feel that they are giving the impression of being deliberately unhelpful if they wish to have a legal representative present. It is still your right and if you choose to exercise it, the police should not interview you until a solicitor arrives.
If you do not have a solicitor in mind, remember the Duty Solicitor Service will provide one from an independent rota, free of charge, 24 hours a day 365 days a year. If you only know the name of your preferred firm, a national call centre will contact a solicitor within the firm for you while you are at the police station. Similarly, if you only know the name of your representative, but not the firm, the same applies.
Do NOT fall into one of the traps below:
“I haven’t done anything, so I don’t need a solicitor” – the evidence may not suggest you’re innocent, even if you are!
“A solicitor will take ages to arrive” – wrong – and waiting a few minutes now may save considerably more time later on.
“I can handle this on my own” – maybe – but having legal representation isn’t going to harm your case.
“The police will think I’ve got something to hide if I have a solicitor / the officer was so nice to me” – see above!
“I feel embarrassed” – all of our police station legal representatives and solicitors are highly experienced and regularly deal with a full spectrum of cases.
It is worth remembering that if you receive any request to attend a police station by appointment, you can arrange legal representation BEFORE YOU GO!
Our police station advisors and solicitors cover all of the North east and are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week. We can attend at very short notice; equally, if you know when and where you will be interviewed, we can fall in with your plans. Advice within the police station and any further advice if you have to return at a later date is free of charge.
Please call our experienced team to discuss any requirements on 0191 232 3048 or outside office hours, 0776 837 6039.