Police officers are now able to interview suspects on the street using their body cameras for low level offences such as shoplifting and minor criminal damage offences.
It has been widely reported that the police is having to deal with budget cuts. Andy Marsh, the National Police Chief’s Council spokesman, said he hoped the move would lead to ‘cheaper justice’ by dealing with matters at the scene of the offence rather than the matter being dealt with at the police station.
The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 was introduced to ensure that police interviews were carried out in a controlled environment, carefully monitored by the custody sergeants and a detailed custody record logged throughout the suspects time in custody. Whilst at the police station, a suspect has the right to free and independent legal advice. It is uncertain as to how these conditions can be achieved during interviews taking place on the street and which safeguards will be in place for the suspect. The suspect should have the same rights irrespective of the offence.
Mark Fenhalls QC, chairman of the Criminal Bar Association said: “body worn cameras can make a valuable contribution to the work of the police in gathering evidence, but must not be used to circumvent the basic rights of the suspect.”
If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of being asked questions by the police, whether on the street or at a police station, it is your legal right to seek legal representation prior to being asked questions. It may be the case that a voluntary interview could be arranged at a local police station with a solicitor present rather than being interviewed on the street without a legal representative.
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