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  • Namita Pawa

Voluntary v Caution + 3 interview: What do they mean and what is the difference?

A caution +3 interview is exactly the same as a voluntary interview, appointment interview and a ‘chat’. The latter inferring that a casual conversation is to take place. However if that conversation is to be recorded after the police caution is given, then it is an interview in this context.

Interviews such as these are generally used by the police when there is no necessity to make an arrest and hold the individual in custody but in circumstances where the police still need to put an allegation to you.

Regardless of whether the invitation is for you to attend a voluntary interview or caution +3 interview, there are a few key points to consider.

Unlike an interview after arrest when the individual is detained in the police station pending the interview, a voluntary interview takes place on an agreed date and time at a designated location, whether it is a police station or somewhere else. By its very nature, it means that the individual that is being questioned is not under arrest and is therefore free to leave the interview and therefore the police station or the particular location of the interview at any time.

The voluntary interview is often specified by the police in terms of a date, time and location, but importantly, if you are not able to make that particular occasion because of a prearranged appointment or some other reason, then you are at liberty to explain that to the officer and make arrangements for an alternative date.

As with any interview with the police, you have a right to legal advice and that incudes when the interview is on a voluntary basis.

The solicitor will generally be able obtain ‘disclosure’ from the police – this means information from the police about the allegation that is to be put to you. This enables the solicitor to understand what the allegation is about so that they can take instructions and then provide advice before going into the interview. Efforts will be made to obtain the disclosure in advance of the interview so that the solicitor and client can meet before attending the police station or other agreed location. In those circumstances, preparation for the interview, obtaining instructions and providing advice can all take place in advance and away from the police station.

What happens if I don’t want to attend a voluntary interview?

If you have been contacted by the police to attend a voluntary interview but choose not to, it is important to consider that the police may arrest you in order to put the allegation to you. The same can apply if arrangements have been made and you fail to attend at the agreed date and time without an explanation.

I have been asked to attend a voluntary interview by the police. What should I do?

If you are contacted by the police, we would suggest contacting a criminal defence lawyer who can immediately make contact with the officer to ascertain the nature of the allegations and then make arrangements for an attendance on a convenient date and time. They will obtain disclosure and then arrange to meet you before the interview to discuss the allegations, talk you through the process and procedure, obtain your instructions and provide advice.

Legal disclaimer: Articles are intended as an introduction to the topic and do not constitute legal advice. The information contained herein is accurate at the date of publication but please note that the law is ever changing and evolving. If you require advice in relation to any matter raised in this article please contact a member of the team.


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