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  • Namita Pawa

What is the police caution?

In England and Wales, police officers use the police caution as a verbal statement delivered to a suspect when they are arrested or interviewed. It advises the suspect of their legal rights and the potential consequences of remaining silent or providing false information to the police. The statement is also commonly known as the "right to remain silent" or the "caution". It is as follows:

You do not have to say anything but it may harm your defence if you do not mention something which you later reply on in court. Anything you do say can be given in evidence.

Its purpose is to ensure that the individual is aware of their legal rights and to protect them from self-incrimination during the police interview or questioning process. By exercising the right to remain silent, the individual can avoid providing evidence that may be detrimental to their defence in court. It is essential for anyone arrested to understand and consider their legal rights carefully before responding to police questions or making any statements.

What does it mean?

To understand the caution fully, it can be broken down into three parts:

  1. You do not have to say anything – you have a right to silence and do not have to answer the police questions.

  2. But it may harm your defence if you do not mention something which you later reply on in court – if you do not provide information when asked questions and then are later charged and appear in court and give evidence or put forward a defence, the court can draw a conclusion against you for not providing this information when you were given the opportunity earlier.

  3. Anything you do say can be given in evidence – the interview will be recorded and a transcript can be prepared and read out or the recording can be played.

The police caution is a crucial element of the criminal justice process in England and Wales. It ensures that a suspect understands their legal rights and the consequences of their actions. Suspects should pay close attention to the caution and seek legal advice if they are unsure about their rights or how to proceed. By understanding the police caution, suspects can help protect their legal interests, and ensure that they receive a fair and just trial.

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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