In this essay I will start by looking at the different things that are needed for an interview plan and for the interview to take place successfully, and then I will go on to describe bail without charge including the limitations and restrictions that can be legally imposed. Before an interview takes place a plan needs to be drawn up to give the officers the opportunity to gain all the relevant information and evidence that could be needed for the interview to take place. An officer needs to be well prepared for an interview, so they do not loose control of the situation1.
For the interview to go smoothly the officers should gain some background knowledge of the circumstances of the offence being investigated, and also some general information about the person they are going to be interviewing. For example the officer would need to know if they are interviewing a witness, suspect or victim, family status, any past history of previous offences and also the property that the person being interviewed has on them at the time of arriving at the station in-case they have anything on them relating to the offence2.
The officer should consider all possibilities leading up to the incident, and if it is possible for them to do so then they should return to the scene and observe the whole area to see if anything has been missed from the area3. The original photographs and documents from the scene should also be looked at again to see if they can provide any more information about the incident, as well as speaking personally to any witnesses.
Once they have spoken to the witnesses and taken note of their account of what happened, the credibility of that witness would then need to be checked up on4, because if they are friends or relatives of the person being interviewed they could give false information such as a false alibi. The purpose of an interview is to ascertain the truth from that person relating to the matter that is under investigation.
The aim of the interview is usually more specific than the purpose5, but it differs depending on whether the person being interviewed is a witness, victim or suspect so it is important to establish whether that person is actually involved in the offence and how. When interviewing a witness the aim is normally just to establish what they know, but when interviewing a suspect the aim is to establish whether or not they were involved in the offence6.
Once the aim of the interview has been established the next focus is to decide on setting out some objectives for the interview. Objectives are used as a means of achieving the aim and can be divided into three main areas which are concerning what is already known before the interview takes place, what needs to be determined from the interview and the points that need to be proved7. All available material including statements, crime reports and contemporaneous notes will need to be closely examined to help formulate the interview plan.
An interview plan should be used for all interviews whether with suspects, witnesses or victims8, as it allows the interviewer to direct the interview in an appropriate way so that they are able to keep track of all the different matters that need to be covered throughout. Once the interview has been planned, the next thing that needs to be taken into account is the legal considerations, because it would be a waste of time if later on in the case the interview was deemed inadmissible as evidence because of a breach of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE), the Codes of Practice9.
Such breaches could be that the person being interviewed is mentally handicapped or disabled so an appropriate adult would need to attend the interview for it to be admissible in court. Also things such as being unable to speak English, unable to read, write or if they are blind or deaf then again an interpreter would need to be available to sit in the interview to ensure that it can be used in court. Making sure that all of these points and others are addressed can save a lot of police time in the long run10.
Just before the interview is about to take place, any administrative matters should be addressed for example the interviewer should check that the interview room is available, and the tape recording machine is functioning properly11. Also all documentation should be checked and signed before being taken into the interview room. When interviewing a person the officer needs to ensure that they establish a rapport with the interviewee. Establishing rapport means 'getting into communication with'12 and it allows communication to flow easily.
It is not a friendship it is just 'the development of a trusting relationship. '13 In some cases this could be the first time that a person is inside a police station, and due to being in new and unusual surroundings it can make them feel nervous and uncomfortable. This can cause them to close up, panic and not necessarily remember everything regarding the incident that they saw. The key to gaining rapport with an interviewee is to give a friendly first impression but still appear professional.
Treating the person as an individual by taking the time to find out their needs and concerns, which means the officer is more likely to get a response and succeed in the interview. 14 Something so basic such as making sure you know the person's name that you are interviewing can make a massive difference, because an interviewee could feel that there is no point them co-operating with the officers if they get their name wrong, or make them feel uncomfortable in anyway.
Explaining the reason for the interview and the procedures that are to be followed means that the interviewee has a good understanding for why the questions need to be asked, so they are more likely to give a accurate response. 15 Whether interviewing a witness, suspect or victim there should be the same courteousness used for them all individually. For example when dealing with a suspect, if they have been arrested at their house and have been dragged out of bed straight to the police station they are unlikely to co-operate.
On the other hand if the suspect was allowed chance to get dressed, possible sort out the children if they have any before being taken to the police station they may be more likely to co-operate with the questioning as they have been treated with respect from the start. It is a good idea to try and empathise with victims who have suffered a fairly stressful or traumatic experience to make them feel more comfortable about talking. Empathy means to try and understand how that person is feeling as a result of their experience, but whilst doing this the objective of the interview must remain.
16 In some cases the interviewee will tell lies, and it is almost an automatic response for the officer to challenge that lie especially if they know what the truth really is, but the disadvantage of doing this means that the flow of communication will stop, and no further information will be gained from the interview, some of which could be valuable. If it is suspected that the interviewee is lying, it can work as an advantage to allow them to continue with what they are saying, but put something in the notes of the interview about what they said and that they were suspected of lying.
Sometimes the interviewee contradicts themselves and trips themselves up as they forget what lies they have already told, but if they do not, then the suspicions can be taken up at the end of the interview to allow the flow of conversation to continue as long as possible. After all the planning has been completed the interview can take place. When dealing with a suspect they need to be allowed to answer the allegations made against them, but a witness can simply recall what they saw.