Police station: interviews

Ensure your client is fit to be interviewed.

Advise your client – should they answer questions during interview?

Ensure that they know what to expect and to expect everything to be on the record (see below).

Should your client answer question during a police interview?


Answering all questions is a risky business. It should certainly be the adopted tactic if your client has an innocent explanation which requires investigation. They may, for example, have a concrete alibi or have simply been mistakenly identified. Where the client has an innocent explanation for the evidence then that will weigh heavily in favour of answering questions.

The advantage is that the police will be under a duty to investigate the case put forward in the interview. Your client’s case will become a ‘reasonable line of enquiry’ that the police will have to follow.

However, be wary. If you think that the client’s innocent explanation lacks credibility then you should advise them carefully on lying a police interview. If a false account is put forward at this stage, then adverse inferences as to the defendant’s credibility could be raised at trial. The jury could be invited to conclude that the defendant cannot be believed.

REMEMBER: the burden of proof is on the prosecution. If the suspect refuses to answer questions, there may not be enough evidence to proceed.


A no-comment interview is likely to the best approach where there is strong evidence or where the client has no explanation as to the evidence being adduced. It would also be appropriate where you have doubts about the credibility of the client’s account.

This is particularly relevant if the incident occurred a long time ago or is especially complex, and the suspect has not had time to consider what they wish to say.

If the suspect fails to mention a fact in interview and later relies on that fact in court, the jury may draw an adverse inference under s. 34, 36 & 37 CJPOA.


• There has been inadequate disclosure for you to advise your client.

• The police have not disclosed evidence that is enough to charge the suspect .

• The suspect is currently not in a fit condition to answer questions .

• The facts are very complicated, and a considered response is essential.

• The client denies the offence but does not appear to have a viable defence.


In addition to  the advantages listed above, it  may be advisable for  your client to answer questions if they would accept a caution. The advantage to the suspect is that this is not a criminal conviction. However, the suspect will have to admit to the crime and it will go on the client’s police record.

If the suspect chooses not to answer questions in interview, they could consider making a prepared statement instead. There are several advantages to using a prepared statement:

• It allows the suspect to consider what they wish to say in a less stressful environment.

• Control over the information that the suspect gives to the police – the suspect will not accidentally incriminate themselves, nor give an account which is damaging to them.

• This is particularly useful if the suspect has evidence of a defence, but there is a risk the suspect would say something self-incriminating during an interview.

REMEMBER: it is ultimately the client’s decision whether or not they answer questions. You are there to advise them and to ensure they are in a fit state to be interviewed.