In order to comply with the provisions of the EU Directive 2012/13/EU, significant changes were last year made to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 requiring additional information to be given to detainees in criminal proceedings before interview. These extended rights regulate police procedure prior to interview and ensure that inferences from silence and evidence cannot be drawn if the client’s rights have not been adhered to.
The requirements of the EU Directive were transposed into UK law through two provisions of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. The first of these is found in paragraph 3.4(b) of code C and states that any documents which potentially challenge the lawfulness of a detainee’s arrest must be disclosed to the detainee and their legal representatives. In determining which documents apply, the provision attaches a particularly wide definition to include anything capable of undermining the reasons which make the detainee’s arrest and detention necessary.
From now on therefore, solicitors will request information about any documents available that may undermine the allegation against the suspect. This may include wishing to view CCTV material, audio recordings and other types of evidence before the interview.
The second provision, added to comply with the requirements of the EU Directive, is Paragraph 11.1A of code C which states that the questioning of a person regarding their involvement or suspected involvement in a criminal offence must be carried under caution. In addition, before a person is interviewed, they and their legal representatives must be given sufficient information to enable them to understand the nature of the offence, in order to allow for the effective exercise of the rights of the defence. It should be noted however, that this obligation does not require the disclosure of such details if it were to prejudice the criminal investigation.
This last point is particularly interesting as there is no corresponding limitation in the EU Directive. As a result, there is likely going to be significant debate regarding the information which might prejudice a criminal investigation.
If you or a loved one have been arrested, it is important that you seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity. At Seatons, our team of legal professionals have a wealth of experience representing clients in police interviews and provide clear, easy to understand legal advice at low sensible fees. For more information, feel free to give us a call on 01536 276300.