Disclosure at the police station
When at interview, the purpose of the police's questioning is to ask you about your involvement or suspected involvement in an offence. But before you are expected to answer questions, your lawyer will be able to speak to the Officer in the Case (OiC) to determine what evidence they have against you. This process is known as disclosure. Without a lawyer, it is rare to get the same level of detail in disclosure than if you were represented.
The first place for a solicitor to find out details about your case is on the custody record. This is a record of everything that happens to you when at the police station. From being given a blanket to visiting a nurse to get painkillers, all details will be noted on the custody record.
The custody record is an invaluable tool in holding the police to account given that it is a log of a detainee's detention. One is entitled to read their custody record but not necessarily have a copy of the entire document.
Having a solicitor present can help persuade a custody sergeant to give a copy of the whole record. The document effectively acts as an insurance policy for you by documenting everything that has happened to you in custody. Your solicitor will also be able to scrutinise the content of the custody record and see if there are any challengeable or objectionable actions.
During disclosure, the OiC will discuss the details of your arrest and the evidence with your solicitor. The OiC does not strictly have to tell the solicitor every single detail however. Where the disclosure is extremely brief (For example: "Your client was seen doing X at Y location and I want to question him about it"), a solicitor may be able to persuade the OiC to give more information.
The more information you have, the better informed you are as to how to conduct the interview. The level of disclosure can also give an idea as to the strength of the police's case against the suspect.
However, brief disclosure may be a police tactic to later ambush a suspect with crucial evidence. If police give piecemeal disclosure during interview, a solicitor can ask for a pause in the questioning to facilitate additional disclosure and give advice on how to proceed.
The advantages of having a solicitor assist you at the police station are obvious when one considers disclosure. Knowing what evidence the police have against you can make a crucial difference on the advice given and how the interview is conducted.
Our elite private client criminal team has vast experience of representing clients right from the early police station stage, to the Crown Court and beyond. We are also acknowledged leaders in the field of criminal appeals - and will always offer a free, no-obligation discussion on how best we can help defend you.