Police Interrogation

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  • Get a confession
  • Important investigative tool
  • Cheap
  • Convincing
  • Research (Mitchell 1983) suggests high proportion of suspects make partial or complete confessions
  • A confession can never be used on its own-it has to be corroborated by other evidence
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Right to have a Solicitor present

  • All suspects have this right unless rare occasion referred to in R v Samuel (1988)
    • 24yr old man whose mother was infored of his arrest hours before he was refused a solicitor.
    • Court of appeal felt is anyone was likely to be alerted, it would already of happened so no reason to deny fundamental freedom of calling a solicitor.
    • His final interview was taken before and without a solicitor so what he said evidence was inadmissible and court so his convition of robbery was quashed
  • If suspect doesn't ask for solicitor police can go ahead with interview without one
  • Police can also start interview if matter urgent or solicitor likely to be delayed
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Drawbacks (in relation to confessions)

  • Police falsification
  • Police intimidation
  • Poor standard of police interviewing
  • Police assumption of guilt (john Baldwin 1992)
  • Interviews often rambling and repetitious
  • Police getting answer they want-one word answers in response to leading questions
  • Inducements such as lighter sentences
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Psychological reasons for false confessions

  • Study by Gudjonsson 'The Psychology of Interrogations, COnfessions and Testimony' 1992-4 situations in which people likely to make false confessions
  • Desire for publicity or failure to separate reality and fantasy
  • Protection of another
  • To escape from the police station
  • Temporarily persuaded that they must have committed the offence
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  • Suspect must be offered a seat 
  • All interviews must be tape recorded
  • 2 copies of tape recording-sealed master copy and a working copy
  • Time must be recorded at start together with persons present and time recorded at end
  • S76 PACE-courts shall not allow statements which have been obtained by oppression to be used as evidence
    • unreasonable pressure
    • threatening
    • physical intimidation
  • Room must be adequatley heated, lit and ventilated
  • Should be breaks at meal times and short refreshment breaks every 2 hours
  • 'Oppression' includes torture, inhuman or degrading treatment and the use of threat or violence
  • The treatment of the suspect must be monitored by the custody officer-research shows that a substantial majority (10%) of custody records are falsified
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  • Code C- a person must normally be cautioed on arrest
  • Until recently 'You do not have to say anything unless you wish to do so but what you say may be given in evidence'
  • Now 'You do not have to say anythings, but it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned anything which you may leter rely on in court. Anything that you do say may be given in evidence'
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  • S60-interviews must be tape recorded
  • Weaker safeguard than might seem
  • Police routinely begin questioning outside interview room
  • Quite willing to use oppressive questioning even during recording
  • Video recording unlikely to be introduced soon -too expensive (£100m)
    • Some stations do use this but it is not universal or mandatory
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  • Quality of legal advice
  • Baldwin 1992-66% of interviews legal representatives said nothing
  • Other research shows that legal advisers appeared to identify more with the police
  • Minimal discussion with client and rarely in position to give useful advice
  • Significant improvement since accresitation scheme introduced in 1995
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An 'Appropriate Adult'

  • PACE and COde C
  • Suspects under 17 or adults with a mental disorder or disability must have an 'appropriate adult' with them during police interview
  • Parent/social worker
  • Research in 1993 showed parents often sided with the police
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Mentally Vulnerable Adults

  • Consequences of 'community care'
  • May be difficult to identify -R v Aspinall (1999)
    • had schizophrenia. COurt of appeal ruled that he should've had an appropriate adult with him even though he seemed to understand the questopms. Because of this the interview was not admissible as evidence.
  • Research by Gudjonsson 1992
    • 15-20% of suspects possibly vulnerable-police only identified 4%
  • Royal Commission on Criminal Justice in 1993 recommended special police training and duty psychiatrist schemes
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The Right to Silence

  • Until 1994 suspects free to say nothing in response to questionging
  • Prosecution couldn't suggest it implied guilt
  • Right resticted by  CJPOA 1994 s34-39 -now inferences can be made from refusal to answer questions
  • D can still remain silent but judge can comment on D's failure to mention a crucial matter; this can form part of the evidence against D
  • Alters basic rule that Prosecution must prove D's guilt
  • Must also be prosecution evidence
  • Silence on its own is not enough to convict a suspect
  • Some human rights lawyers argue that this restricted right alters the main most important premise that you are innocent until proven guilty
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Interviews outside the Police Station

  • PACE-where practicable interviews should always take place at the police station
  • However evidence obtained elsewhere may be admissible
  • Practice of 'taking the scenic route' to the station
  • Unrecorded visits to polic cells
  • Suspects requesting to see police informally
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