When you arrive, you should make sure that your client knows you have arrived. You should then ask to see the custody record – you must be permitted to inspect a detainee’s custody record (Code C 2.4). Check:
• The nature of the alleged offence and the reasons your client is under suspicion;
• The time and place of the arrest.
• Your client’s address and date of birth.
• The “relevant time” (i.e. the time your client arrived at the police station and the custody clock began running);
• Whether any identification procedures have already taken place.
• Whether any significant comments have been made by your client;
• Whether the client has any disability or vulnerability.
• Whether any samples have been taken; and
• Whether a risk assessment has been performed and details of any detention reviews.
Throughout your attendance at the police station you should continue to review whether any breaches of the PACE Codes of Practice have occurred. If they have you may need to raise them with the custody sergeant. Such breaches may be relevant to the admissibility of evidence later on.
You should then speak to the Officer in the Case – who is known as the OIC – and seek disclosure of the police case: facts, significant statements made by your client and next steps intended by the police. Under Code C 11.1 A the solicitor must be given sufficient information to understand the nature of the offence and the reasons for suspicion:
NOTE: Subject to the above and besides showing the custody record, the police are not obliged to disclose initial details of their case prior to interview (R v lmran and Hussain). However, they often choose to do so, as inadequate disclosure is a potentially reasonable ground for a solicitor to advise silence at interview (R v Roble). A typed disclosure statement is the most usual communication but ask also to see the police officer’s notebook. Consider:
• Are there any significant silences or statements made by the client?
• Are there details of any victim’s injuries (if relevant) – any photographic evidence?
• Is there any CCTV footage?
• Does your client have any previous convictions?
• If the client has made any admissions, how did they come about?
You should then take your client’s instructions (first explain your identity and role):
• Share with the client all information obtained from the police.
• Explain your options at the police station and your possible approaches to the interview process. This will normally be limited to (1) answering all questions (2) answering no questions and responding with ‘no comment’ or (3) providing a prepared statement and then offering no comment thereafter.
You should then take their instructions. Try to obtain as much detail as necessary.
There are other important questions you should ask:
• Do they have any previous convictions?
• If there was an interview, were they cautioned before?
• Can they account for any injuries they have sustained?
• Confirm name, date of birth and so on.