Lessons of a Police Station Representative

The training is over, and Heulwen has been attending various police stations across Oxfordshire, and beyond, to represent clients. Heulwen tells us how she is getting on:

“I hugely enjoyed my training as a police station representative, even when clients were vomiting in a bin next to my feet (click here to read about that experience…) but nothing compared to attending alone to represent clients. Since qualifying, I have represented clients in relation to serious offences, and some rather amusing matters (in hindsight, following their release without charge of course); I have built up a rapport with the Custody Sergeants at Abingdon Police Station; and I have been an irritant to many officers with underhand interview tactics. Most importantly though, I have provided much needed legal advice, and often support, to people in the most stressful of situations.

I have learned many things during my police station attendance, namely that some forces continue to use actual tapes. Yes, tapes! I have also learned that these tape recorders are so old that plugging them in to carry out interviews in prison can cause the fuse to blow, which in turn can result in the power supply to the whole prison being affected… This would have been far more amusing if I hadn’t travelled to the Isle of White for said interview, an interview that then couldn’t go ahead because of the faulty equipment which the governor of Isle of White prison banned us from plugging in again. At least I enjoyed a pleasant ferry journey. I have also learned that sometimes you will be summoned to the police station for interview, but the all-important interpreter will not arrive for a further 3 hours (and will arrive immediately after you finally decide to walk to McDonalds and order a burger having not eaten a scrap of food all day).

Last week, whilst representing a client for a military law matter, I learned several new acronyms and various facts about RAF operations, all of which will likely serve no further purpose than to perhaps assist me in any pub quiz quests. The most valuable lesson learned that day though was that being particularly charming to interviewing officers is not only beneficial to your client, but also beneficial to you (I was successful in obtaining a comfortable lift back to my office in a police car after this particular case). In fact, it is always best to be polite to officers, Custody Sergeants etc., not only for the basic reason that manners cost absolutely nothing, but also because nothing will ever be gained by taking a ‘them and us’ approach at the station. Politeness however should not be confused with over-friendliness: if I disagree with ANYTHING in relation to the treatment of my client, whether during or outside of interview, I am not afraid to voice my disagreement.

All jokes aside, the police station is a daunting place to be, and interview is an extremely important part of an investigation, from both sides. I cannot stress how important it is that anyone who finds themselves at the station seeks legal advice. I have said this before: having proficient legal representation at the police station to advise on decisions to be made before; during, and after being in police detention is so crucial.

As always, if you do find yourself at the police station, call us on 07475464887 and we will attend, day or night. 

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