Police interviews of suspects

My notes on police powers when interviewing suspects

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Police interviews of suspects
Any detained person may be questioned by the police and this must be
taperecorded (some are even videotaped). Suspects have the right to a solicitor
present unless in severe cases. The solicitor is however not needed and the interview
can happen without one present. Also, if the solicitor was going to be very late or if the
matter is urgent, the police can start questioning the suspect before the solicitor
arrives. Interview rooms must be well heated, lit and ventilated and the suspect must
be offered a seat (PACE Code C says that the suspect shall not be required to stand).
There must also be breaks at mealtimes as well as a short refreshment break after
every 2 hours.
Tape recordings: 2 copies of the tape recording must be made one is a sealed
master copy while the other is the working copy which can be checked by the suspect
or his lawyers. At the start of every interview the police must start the tape by stating
the time and who is present at the interview. At the end of the interview the police
must state the time.
Adult supervision: If the suspect is under 17 or mentally handicapped then there
must be an appropriate adult present during all interviews (as well as a solicitor).
Right to silence: until 1994, suspects could choose to not answer a question during
an interview without the silence being considered later on in the legal process.
However the government decided that this was causing many guilty people to not be
convicted so s3439 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order act (1994) changed this
regulation meaning that if suspects did refuse to answer a question, this silence would
be noted and taken into account later on. (Hence "you do not have to say anything
but it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something
which you later rely on in court..."). Although this is the case, the suspect cannot be
convicted just because of the silence.
Protection of suspects: s76 of PACE states that the court cannot allow statements
where the statement has been obtained through oppression (torture,
inhuman/degrading treatment & the use of threats or violence). This also covers the
state of the interview room (see above). The treatment of the suspect should be
monitored by the custody officer so that he/she can keep accurate records off all
happenings during the detention period (including interviews).


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