Can officers interview a detainee arrested for an offence, in relation to a separate offence they were released under investigation for?

20 May 2020

Not reviewed after the date of publication

Question:

Can officers interview a detainee arrested for an offence, in relation to a separate offence they were previously released under investigation for?

Answer: 

If someone is under arrest for one offence they can also be questioned about another offence as long as the interview is conducted in accordance with the procedures detailed in Code of Practice C.

An interesting case is that of R v Kirk where it was held that the suspect must be told in clear terms the true nature of the offence for which he is being interviewed:

'. . . . ..where the police, having made an arrest, propose to question a suspect or to question him further in relation to an offence which is more serious than the offence in respect of which the arrest was made, they must, before questioning or questioning further, either charge the suspect with the more serious offence, as envisaged by s 37 of the 1984 Act, or at least ensure that he is aware of the true nature of the investigation. That is the thrust and purport of para 10.1 of Code C . . . . . '

Please also see paragraph 11.6 of Code of Practice C which provides:

'The interview or further interview of a person about an offence with which that person has not been charged or for which they have not been informed they may be prosecuted, must cease when:

(a) the officer in charge of the investigation is satisfied all the questions they consider relevant to obtaining accurate and reliable information from the offence have been put to the suspect, this includes allowing the suspect an opportunity to give an innocent explanation and asking questions to test if the explanation is accurate and reliable, e.g. to clear up ambiguities or clarify what the suspect said;

(b) the officer in charge of the investigation has taken account of any other evidence; and

(c) the officer in charge of the investigation, or in the case of a detained suspect, the custody officer see paragraph 16.1, reasonably believes there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction for that offence. See Note 11B

This paragraph does not prevent officers in revenue cases or acting under the confiscation provisions of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 or the Drug Trafficking Act 1994 from inviting suspects to complete a formal question and answer record after the interview is concluded.'

We are of the opinion that the suspect may be questioned regarding the full details of the original offence in order to gain evidence of that offence, whilst being interviewed for the new offence as long as you ensure the interviewee is aware of the true nature of the investigation.

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