Understanding The Police Caution Plus 3 Interview

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Are you facing a Police Caution Plus 3 interview and unsure what it means for you? This process involves participating in a voluntary police interview, understanding your right to free legal advice, and the option to leave at any point.

This article breaks down the essential elements of the interview, clarifies your rights, and offers practical advice to help you through the process without spoiling the specifics. Know what to expect, stay informed, and protect your rights with the insights you’ll gain here.

Key Takeaways

  • The Police Caution Plus 3 is a voluntary police interview consisting of a police caution, entitlement to free legal advice, and the liberty to leave at any time, though exiting prematurely could lead to arrest.
  • During the interview, the individual’s solicitor offers crucial support and advice, ensuring the protection of the individual’s rights, advising on how to engage with the interview process, and maintaining transparent communication throughout and after the process.
  • The interview can lead to different outcomes such as no further action, various out-of-court disposals, charges, or bail, and having legal representation is critical in guiding one through the legal implications and potential long-term consequences.

Understanding Police Caution Plus 3

Police Caution Plus 3 refers to a voluntary police interview that comes with three primary elements. These include the police caution, the entitlement to free legal advice, and the individual’s freedom to leave the police station at any stage. A comprehensive understanding of these elements is integral to preserving your rights during such an interview.

The Police Caution, which marks the beginning of a Caution Plus 3 interview, is designed to inform you of your right to remain silent and the potential consequences of choosing to speak or remaining silent. The police are obligated to advise you of your rights, including your right to free legal advice and the option to leave the police station voluntarily. However, bear in mind that you are not under arrest and can leave. But, if you attempt to exit before the interview concludes, the police could arrest you, impeding your ability to leave.

The Structure of a Caution Plus 3 Police Interview

A Caution Plus 3 interview is a voluntary procedure where an individual is invited to a police station to assist with an investigation. You can depart from the police station anytime, but attempting to exit before the interview concludes could lead to your arrest if there’s any reasonable suspicion of guilt.

This process is often favoured by the police as it is cost-effective, avoids potential legal issues, and can be scheduled at a time convenient for all parties involved.

Pre-Interview Briefing

Before the actual interview, individuals are entitled to a pre-interview briefing. This preliminary discussion involves:

  • Free legal advice
  • Fact gathering
  • Arranging a suitable appointment
  • Interview preparation

The confidentiality of this consultation allows you to be fully informed about the allegations against you and the relevant law, including the Criminal Evidence Act, thus aiding in your understanding of the criminal evidence disclosed by the police during the criminal investigation.

The solicitor coordinates with you to set a convenient interview time and accompanies you to the police station on the day of the interview. If you are underage or a vulnerable adult, an appropriate adult, such as a parent or social worker, must accompany you during the police interview with the police officer.

Before agreeing to a voluntary interview under caution, you’ll receive a briefing about your rights, entitlements, and the procedural protections available.

The Interview Itself

The presence of a solicitor during a Caution Plus 3 interview is highly beneficial. They can:

  • Prevent you from being taken by surprise
  • Assist by taking note of your version of events
  • Advise on relevant law
  • Help decide on the approach to police questioning

The duration of the interview can vary, but most do not exceed one hour, with many concluding within 30 minutes. After the interview, the police will decide on a potential arrest depending on the seriousness of the allegation and available evidence.

In this interview, you are entitled to stay silent or respond with ‘no comment’. Additionally, you can leave the police station anytime since the interview is voluntary. However, leaving prematurely could result in an arrest if there’s reasonable suspicion.

Post-Interview Procedures

After the interview, your solicitor will stay updated on the case’s progress and advise you accordingly. This follow-up ensures transparent communication and that subsequent actions taken by the police are relayed to you. The outcomes after your interview can vary. You may face no further action, receive an out-of-court disposal such as a caution, or community resolution, or be charged, with a court date sent by post.

The post-interview decisions are made based on the evidence and public interest. This process can be immediate or take several months and involves various authorities, including the police or Crown Prosecution Service. When the police decide, should an arrest occur post-interview, your solicitor will represent your concerns to the Custody Sergeant and ensure respect for your rights during the process.

Legal Representation: Your Shield in a Voluntary Interview

Receiving independent legal advice during a police interview under caution is crucial. It significantly impacts the outcome and guarantees the safeguarding of your rights. During a voluntary police interview, you have the right to free legal advice, and the police are required to inform you of this right.

Having a solicitor present is a safeguard for your rights and should not be viewed as an admission of guilt or a cause for inconvenient delays.

Decoding the Legal Jargon: What Does ‘Caution Plus 3’ Really Mean?

The term ‘Caution Plus 3’ denotes a voluntary police interview type which includes three primary aspects: receiving an invitation, consulting a solicitor, and collecting information before the interview. The police caution, a component of the interview, advises you that you do not have to say anything. Failing to mention something during the interview that you later rely on in court may harm your defence. It’s important to be thorough when providing information. Anything you do say may be used as evidence.

The legal repercussions of a Caution Plus 3 interview are similar to those of an arrested individual, highlighting the importance of careful consideration before disclosing information. Aside from Caution Plus 3, these interviews are also known as stand-alone interviews, voluntary interviews, or appointment interviews. They are usually conducted at a police station with a solicitor present to guide you.

The Role of Solicitors in Protecting Your Rights

The presence of a solicitor during a Caution Plus 3 interview guarantees the protection of your legal rights and can noticeably influence the interview’s result. Solicitors play a crucial role by:

  • Providing a pre-interview briefing
  • Helping you understand police disclosure
  • Advising on the police caution
  • Guiding you on whether to answer police questions.

During the interviews, solicitors protect against unfair interrogation tactics and can influence the course of the investigation at a critical early stage. They offer strategic advice concerning responses to police questioning, including the decision to remain silent or submit a prepared statement. This advice can make all the difference in the case’s outcome.

Immediate legal representation by solicitors, their 24/7 availability, and their expertise in ensuring that your words are not misconstrued are key factors in safeguarding against unwarranted prosecution. By seeking expert legal advice, you can further protect your interests.

Legal Fees and Funding: Understanding Your Options

Legal Aid may be available for those undergoing a Caution Plus 3 interview, subject to a ‘means test’ assessing financial circumstances and a ‘merits test’ regarding the case specifics. The rate varies depending on the solicitor’s experience and seniority.

In the Crown Court, most individuals are financially eligible for Legal Aid. However, the possibility of making contributions towards legal costs is contingent on income and assets. Fixed fee services extend to essential preparations for the case, such as:

  • meetings with clients
  • reviewing prosecution evidence
  • taking witness statements
  • advising on legal and procedural matters.

When to Attend a Police Station Voluntarily

A voluntary interview at a police station occurs under caution, demonstrating its formal nature despite you not being under arrest. Voluntary interviews are often requested because they are cost-effective, avoid the complications of a formal arrest, and typically follow the connection to an allegation or police preference to interview instead of arresting.

Failure to attend a scheduled voluntary interview can result in an arrest to facilitate the interview, and refusal to participate in the voluntary process may lead to a mandatory interview under custody. Regardless of the non-custodial setting, voluntary interviews should be taken seriously as they are used for serious crimes. The legal consequences are the same as with a formal arrest, hence the importance of legal representation cannot be overstated.

Responding to a Police Invitation: Steps to Take

Once you receive an invitation for a police interview under caution, quickly note down the officer’s name, station, and contact details. Avoid entering into discussions about the allegations with the police and immediately seek legal advice instead. As a police suspect, it is crucial to contact a solicitor as soon as possible to assist with the interview preparations and to ensure that you have legal representation.

Your solicitor will coordinate with the police on your behalf to set a time and date for the interview that suits your availability. You are free to leave the interview at any time, as it is voluntary. However, if you are arrested, you will be required to stay. Choosing to reject the police invitation for an interview may lead to an arrest to ensure the interview occurs, especially if the police believe the arrest is necessary for their investigation. Avoid common mistakes such as misunderstanding the purpose of the interview, disregarding the invitation, or communicating with the police without your lawyer.

Potential Outcomes Following a Caution Plus 3 Interview

Following a Caution Plus 3 interview, you might encounter different results like no further action, release on bail with or without conditions, criminal offence charges, or release under investigation without a set return date to the station. Potential out-of-court disposals following the interview include adult and youth cautions, conditional cautions, penalty notices for disorder, community resolution orders, and referral to a youth offending team for rehabilitation programs, with each option carrying specific implications.

The decision to charge you following a Caution Plus 3 interview depends on whether there is sufficient evidence and if it is deemed to be in the public interest. Cases involving serious offences require the involvement of the Crown Prosecution Service.

Safeguarding Your Future: Long-Term Implications of a Police Caution

A police caution can carry long-lasting impacts, influencing multiple areas in your life. It can affect:

  • Employment in sensitive sectors, as roles requiring enhanced DBS checks always disclose cautions unless they are eligible for filtering after a set period.
  • Job dismissal, as employment contracts may require the disclosure of any cautions.
  • Admission to college/university, as a caution on a criminal record check, can lead to refusal of employment or a place, particularly for jobs in teaching or nursing.

Most college or university admissions for courses not involving work with vulnerable groups are unlikely to be affected by cautions. Here are some key points to note about cautions:

  • A caution is not considered a conviction and is immediately spent according to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, but it is recorded on your criminal history and may be revealed in certain types of criminal record checks.
  • Under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, cautions need not be disclosed to insurers.
  • Cautions can be mentioned in future court appearances even if they are spent, impacting one’s character assessment in legal proceedings.

Cautions can affect eligibility for citizenship due to moral criteria in naturalisation and may pose barriers to visa approval for working or travelling overseas. A caution for certain offences, like those under Schedule 3 of the Sexual Offences Act, leads to placement on the Sex Offenders Register, barring work with regulated activities.


The Caution Plus 3 interview is a vital part of the law enforcement process. When faced with such a situation, understanding your rights, the role of solicitors, and the potential outcomes can be crucial.

As we have explored, the process is not as daunting as it may seem, especially if you are well-prepared and have expert legal representation. Remember, the law is there to protect you, and understanding it is the first step toward safeguarding your future.

Frequently Asked Questions

Mark Riley

Mark Riley is a specialist lawyer offering services in Criminal Law and Professional Misconduct Cases. Mark has studied around the world, including time in Australia. Whilst there he met many amazing and inspirational lawyers. Mark is a passionate advocate and can be found in Courts up and down the Country having practised in Magistrates' Courts, Crown Courts and various Tribunals.
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