Don't throw caution to the wind at police stations
People who find themselves arrested or being questioned should insist on having a solicitor present no matter how much pressure they feel under from the police to conduct matters quickly.
Stefan Hunka, head of the Criminal law department at Coventry & Warwickshire solicitors Alsters Kelley says unfortunately solicitors are not always on hand but it is always worth waiting for one.
"The truth is that many criminal law practices are in very close proximity to police stations and that they run out-of-hours services too, so the worst case scenario would mean a wait of perhaps 45 minutes at most.
"Suspects should seek legal advice before consenting to a caution. A caution is not a simple time-saving exercise. Having a caution still shows up on criminal records checks even though it spares the ordeal of a court appearance. It can have a significant impact on other aspects of life.
"The right to having representation at a police station is fundamental and can make a huge difference. The proper role of the defence solicitor is to advise and assist his or her client throughout the interview process. Refusing to answer questions is an absolute right – it is for the prosecution to prove a suspect’s guilt not for the suspect to establish his or her innocence.
"In the current climate many law-abiding people can find themselves being questioned merely because they have an association with someone under investigation without there necessarily being any direct evidence to link them to wrongdoing.
"This is not about letting criminals off the hook; it is about ensuring that the innocent and the guilty are fully aware of, and able to exercise, their legal rights.”
All of Alsters Kelley’s offices are situated within a five-minute walk of the main police stations in Coventry, Leamington Spa and Nuneaton.