Our last post in this series looked at booking your suspect into custody.
Today we are going to look at starting the interview process.
A couple of years ago I was asked some questions by a writer in relation to this and these are those questions;
In a murder case, where there’s a prime suspect, would the DI always (or usually) be in on the interviews? Is it likely that my lower-ranked pairing would get a shot at the suspect, if they’ve got a good track record?
I know tape-recorders are still used during police interviews under caution. What about filming to DVD?
So, I’ll address these first as answering these questions is sensible before we get started on the interview.
Question 1. Who does the interview, would it be the DI or lower? bearing in mind the DI is the protagonist in a lot of a crime novels, my own included. The answer, in reality is that DI’s don’t do a lot of the main workload in an investigation, they’re too busy making the decisions, taking meetings and running things. The detectives on the team are more than capable of interviewing a murder suspect. But, if you do have a DI as a protagonist, as I do, for the very reason that they make the decisions and not the detective constables, then if you want them to take the lead in your interview, you can. It’s fiction. So, this works, either way you want it to.
Question 2. How are they recorded? They are now digitally recorded in most stations, though I wouldn’t be surprised if some are still using tapes. But, in large custody blocks you will also find interview rooms with the ability to visually record your interview as well. I’ve done this for a serious job, not a murder. Again, depending on where you are, this will be video or digitally.
Now we have the who and the equipment sorted. Let’s get into the interview room.
Your offender is entitled to a solicitor and depending on their mental capacity to take in what is happening/age they may be entitled to an appropriate adult as well. You can find further information on the appropriate adult Here. So, it could be a busy interview room!
Before you even start asking your questions you have a lot of official information to go through first and this has to be on the record so start your recording equipment going.
- You state which police station you are in and the day, date and time.
- Who you are and your role. You then ask each person to introduce themselves and their role, the offender their date of birth.
- Give your offender his entitlement to legal advice (even if their solicitor is sat there) and if they are, then confirm they are happy to continue with their advice. If they decline advice, again ask if they’re happy to continue and remind them it’s an ongoing right and they can stop the interview at any time to get the advice.
- Caution them again (you did it initially when you were arresting them) this time explaining in full what the caution means. (I’m not going to write out the spiel for that here, I doubt you need it for your novels.)
- Then remind them why they’ve been arrested.
- Tell them this is their opportunity to explain their side of events as well as you being able to ask them questions.
Then, the questions can start…
Rebecca Bradley is a retired police detective who now writes the DI Hannah Robbins crime novels set in Nottingham, UK.