Watch videos on voluntary interviews, your rights before, during and after plus information about solicitors.
Instead of arresting and detaining people when conducting a formal police interview, many people are now asked by the police to attend for a ‘voluntary interview’. We'll help you know your rights so you are prepared beforehand.
The police have to tell you why they want to interview you and what it is they think you have done.
It is important to speak to a solicitor so that they can advise you on what to say, or not to say, to the police.
If you do not have a solicitor with you, you can tell the police that you want to speak to one over the telephone.
You must tell the police if you do not feel very well, or if you have any learning difficulties, mental health or autism.
At the start of the interview, the police will caution you. This means they will tell you that you do not have to say anything, but that it may harm your defence if you do not say something you later say in court.
The caution is complicated and what is best for you, whether to answer police questions or not, can depend on several factors, including what evidence the police might have against you.
This is why it is important to speak to a solicitor so that they can give you legal advice based on what the police have told you about the alleged offence.
The police will ask you questions and you have to decide whether to make ‘no comment’, or respond to some or all of the questions put to you by the police.
The decision you make about whether to respond to police questions or not can have serious consequences later on, which could include going to court and getting a criminal record, if convicted.
This is why it is important to speak to a solicitor and get advice from them about what is the best thing for you to do.
The police are not allowed to put you under any pressure to answer their questions.
You can ask to speak to a solicitor at any time during the interview.
If you have an appropriate adult, they will be able to help you in the interview.
You should ask the police what is likely to happen after the voluntary interview.
If the police are to take action against you, either by way of a caution or conditional caution, or take you to court, you should speak to a solicitor.
It can be extremely stressful to be interviewed by the police. If you are feeling anxious and want to talk to someone call the Samaritans at any time on 116 123 – this is a FREE number. You do not have to be suicidal to call them.
Your solicitor is there to make sure you understand your legal rights.
They are trained to help you in the police interview, to advise you on how best to respond to police questions.
What you say to your solicitor is confidential. They will not repeat what you tell them to the police or to anyone else.
Your solicitor will protect you from unfair police questioning, and to make sure that the questions they ask you are fair.
You can speak to your solicitor in private at any time.
The appropriate adult is there to support, advise and assist you.
It is mandatory for an appropriate adult to be with you in the voluntary interview if you are under 18 years of age. An appropriate adult is also required if you are a vulnerable adult, with learning difficulties or mental health problems. This is free.
The appropriate adult will usually be a parent, carer, relative, friend or other untrained appropriate adult but there are also local appropriate adult services, where someone who is trained to provide help and support.
A trained appropriate adult will always tell people to have a solicitor.
The appropriate adult is there to ensure that you understand your rights and that the police are acting properly, fairly and with respect for your rights. They will object if this is not happening.
Tell the police if you do not feel well or if you have any problems relating to a learning disability, autism, or mental health problems.
Please contact us if you want more information. We will be developing this website with more interactive features to help people better understand their legal rights. We also think it is important for children and young people to know where they can find information about their legal rights. This is important because the law allows the police to interview a child of 10 years. While we know that children of that age do not understand what a solicitor is, or what they can do for them, it is important that they do have a solicitor to help them.
We would also like to hear from you what experiences you have had when being dealt with by the police. If you would like to talk to us about this, please contact us.
Know My Rights