Funding limits for legal representation at the police station

A suspect, regardless of means, is entitled to get free legal advice at the police station. However, there is often confusion over what this actually means, and what happens if a suspect is interviewed as a volunteer.

The Notice of Rights and Entitlements is issued in accordance with Code C of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, and embodies a suspect’s entitlement to free legal advice. In the document, it clearly states:

“Tell the police if you want a solicitor to help you while you are at the police station. This is free.”

What does legal aid include?

Free legal advice includes the attendance at the police station, as well as travel costs to and from the station. However, it does not include investigative work carried out once the interview has ended, for example research into emails, social media and text messages. There is also no funding for speaking with additional witnesses.

What constitutes a voluntary interview under caution?

Many interviews under caution are carried out on a voluntary basis. This simply means that, instead of being arrested, the suspect has voluntarily attended the interview by appointment. In this case, the suspect usually has the time to enlist the help of a solicitor prior to attending the interview, and can arrange for the solicitor to be there during their interview.

As stated earlier, any work conducted outside of the police station will incur a fee, and this includes any preparations for your interview that your solicitor conducts. This could be liaising with the police about the case, preparing the suspect and ensuring that everything has been sufficiently prepared prior to the day.

What about after the police interview?

Following the police interview under caution, your solicitor will review what to do next. If additional work needs to be undertaken, this will incur a fee. However, it is our utmost responsibility to minimise the chances of our client being charged – so if it avoids the suspect being prosecuted it is worth the money.

If you have been called to a police interview under caution, we strongly recommend enlisting the help of a legal professional. Contact us for more information on how we can help you.