In Custody

The RMP practice these days is that anyone who is in their custody is "processed". By this rather harmless term they mean that fingerprints, photographs and DNA are taken routinely upon arrest. It should be noted that the Provost Marshal has confirmed in writing that people should not be arrested simply in order to take their DNA against their will. You should bear in mind that the police are entitled to ask you whether you are willing to give your DNA and if you do so, you will then remain on the DNA database. As you know there is recent case law to say that people who are acquitted of offences should have their DNA removed from the database but this is a complicated matter and one which the government are attempting to challenge. The strong legal advice would be not to consent to give your DNA voluntarily. This then puts the police in a position where they have to decide what they are going to do. It is open to them to arrest you and then to take your DNA by force. However, this will not happen. As indicated above, the Provost Marshal has confirmed to Christopher Hill in writing that people will not be arrested simply in order to take their DNA by force.

Therefore if you call the RMP's bluff by refusing to give it voluntarily it will not be taken. If you have concerns about this situation and you are in custody you should contact us as a matter of urgency and seek advice. When in custody you are entitled to a free phone call to a solicitor and we are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to take your call.

RMP/SIB interviews are generally divided into three phases which are the initial account phase; the review phase and the challenge phase. Often the police carry out an initial interview to get the suspect's account and therefore the second and third phases are not entered into. However, at some point once the initial account is given it will be reviewed by the police in detail to make sure they have understood it. Then once enquiries have been made, if there is evidence to contradict the suspect's account that will be put to him possibly in a second interview.

cont.

This is a complicated process that has potentially huge implications for your case and you must ensure that you obtain free legal advice before being interviewed. Preferably, you will have a solicitor in interview with you and we are available to attend interviews anywhere in the world at short notice. All costs of attending police interviews, including the travel expenses will be paid by the Legal Aid Scheme. Any advice you receive to the contrary is misleading and wrong.

Right of Silence

Anyone who is interviewed by the police is cautioned in the following terms “you do not have to say anything but it may harm your defence if you fail to mention now something which you may later rely in court, anything you do say may be given in evidence”. That caution is technical and complicated and it is important that it is understood. The crucial point is that no suspect has to speak to the police unless he wishes to do so. In certain circumstances, maintaining the right to silence may be the best course of action, particularly if the evidence does not put the suspect “in the frame” as being present or involved in the incident. Clearly it is not in anyone’s interest to admit things that the police cannot prove in order to make the situation worse for yourself. On the other hand, if it is clear that a suspect has been involved in an incident but has a reliable and important defence to put forward, such as self defence, then it may well not be in the suspect's interest to refuse to answer the police questions. The second part of the caution says that it may harm the defence if the explanation is not given at an early stage. To go ‘no comment’ in interview and then raise self defence or a similar explanation at the trial when one has had many months to consider the situation is likely to cause significant harm to the defence case. The last part of the caution is that anything said will be given in evidence. This is an important part of the caution because many people believe that what they are having is an informal chat with the police officers without realising that every single word will be transcribed and if the matter ever goes to court it will be read out line by line. In any event, the file will go to the serviceman’s Commanding Officer who will get to see everything that was said in interview even unguarded comments which he perhaps regrets later! It is a fact that the initial stage in any investigation which is the police interview is one where significant damage can be done to the defence case if it is not handled properly. That is why it is vitally important that every suspect has a lawyer present in their interview with them free of charge.