This is the official blog of Sgt Ellie Bloggs, a real live police sergeant on the front line of England. It's not the official opinion of my police force, but all the facts I recount are true, and are not secrets. If they don't want me blogging about it, they shouldn't do it. PS If you don't pay tax, you don't pay my salary.


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Friday, September 15, 2006

Part Two of My Solicitors' Guide

I am surprised to read of this case, involving a man considered so mad he is "incapable of instructing solicitors".

My surprise stems from the suggestion that solicitors need instruction. These worthy law school graduates (or sometimes untrained secretaries) are ready to fly to action at the beck and call of any arrested person and rarely require more than a rundown of salient facts by the police officer in charge. They then "consult" with their client before interview.

For budding solicitors, the consultation is vital if the interview is to go well:

Step One:
Enter the room and before the client can open his/her mouth, the words "Let me tell you what the police know" should be leaving your lips. Then fill the client in on the police case.

Step Two
Never ask, "So what happened?" This question should be phrased, "Let's talk about how we're going to tackle all that evidence." Now explain possible legal defences to the offence suspected, and ask a good many questions like: "Were you scared?" "Did you know this person or had you never seen them before in your life?" "Was it just meant as a joke?"

Step Three
You can now gauge the next phase of advice on the responses given in Step Two. If the client did not twig which replies could lead to no charge, advise him/her not to comment. See here for a guide to when else to advise No Comment. At no stage should you receive "instructions" that you have not first given to the client.

Step Four: The Interview
Your role in interview is to advise your client when you feel he/she is about to trip him/herself up, and to answer the harder questions for him/her. If this starts to annoy the interviewing officer, you are doing your job well. If you can possibly slip in a comment about breaching PACE, do so. It may put the interviewer off. If not, it will still annoy them and is therefore a bonus.

I will describe the rest of the process in a later posting, but this is all you really need to know. Remember, the only purpose of a police interview is to get a confession so they can do a smaller file (if a guilty plea is expected, it involves half the number of forms, and they can send the originals in rather than copies which means they never have to see it again). The police do not really expect the interview to teach them anything, any more than you or your client do. So don't worry if they produce a watertight case that would convince anyone your client is lying. It will carry no weight in court anyway.

Also bear in mind that the British legal system works on the following premise:

If a man tells the truth about what he has done, he will be charged and locked up.
If he lies, we let him go.

----------------------------------------------------------------
Copyright of PC Bloggs

8 Comments:

Blogger PC South West said...

I think most of the legal reps that we deal with at our nick are retired Police officers that have turned to the darkside. Looks like you would make a good legal brief in your later years. You seem to have a natural flare for it, only joking.
I really don't know how some of them sleep at night to be honest. They know dam well their client it as guilty as sin.

15 September, 2006 17:16

 
Blogger ExtraSpecialCopper said...

Some of them make it a hell of a lot worse for their clients by advising them to go no comment! Just means the court can take it as a sign of guilt! (whatever the real phrase is, I have forgotten!)

15 September, 2006 17:27

 
Blogger PC South West said...

They want the case to drag on as long as possible so they can earn more money.

15 September, 2006 18:13

 
Blogger Constable Shortman said...

I did an advanced interviewing course a few months ago and that IS exactly what happens in consultations.

16 September, 2006 15:19

 
Anonymous justcop said...

I am a great believer in the old criminal justice system, we have our evidence and the solicitor doesn't get to know what it is until the day of the trial. Disclosure, no, do not want to give any thanks. Got a defence, bring it up at court. Interview, have one if you like but I aint fussed. Might get a few solicitors reconsidering their choice of career if they actually had to do some work to prove someones innocence.

18 September, 2006 14:25

 
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