WHAT IS A CAUTION PLUS 3 INTERVIEW?

A caution plus 3 interview is a formal police interview which usually takes place at a police station.

The person being interviewed is suspected of having committed an offence or offences. The purpose of the interview is for the police to obtain evidence from that person by questioning them.

A person attending a police station voluntarily can leave the station at any time. If, however, they decide to leave before the interview is over, the police may have grounds to arrest them in order to keep them there until they have finished questioning them.

A person attending the police station voluntarily is entitled to free legal advice from an independent solicitor.

At the beginning of the interview the person being interviewed will be cautioned. The caution is a warning the police give at the start of every interview, and is as follows: ‘You do not have to say anything. But it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence.’ Once the officer has cautioned the person, they will begin questioning them. Anything said in the interview can be used as evidence.

WHAT HAPPENS AT A CAUTION PLUS 3 INTERVIEW?

If a person is legally represented, their representative will be able to obtain information from the police about the allegation before the interview.

The police must provide sufficient information to enable the person to understand the nature of the offence under investigation, and why they are suspected of having committed it.

The police are not required to disclose details at a time which might prejudice the investigation. The decision about what needs to be disclosed rests with the investigating officer.

Having obtained information from the police, the solicitor will consult with the person in private to obtain their account of the incident and advise them accordingly. A room will be provided for this.

The solicitor will advise the person on their legal position, and what they should do in the interview i.e. answer questions, remain silent or give in a prepared statement. After consulting with the solicitor, the person will be interviewed.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN AFTER THE INTERVIEW?

The officer will refer the case to a sergeant or evidential review officer for a decision to be made regarding the outcome.

Some matters will need to be referred to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for a decision to be made. To learn more about how the CPS decide cases, take a look at the Code for Crown Prosecutors. A link can be found here.

WHAT ACTION CAN THE POLICE TAKE?

There are a number of possible outcomes following a police interview. 

No Further Action

A decision has been made not to take the matter any further, either because there was insufficient evidence to charge, or it was decided a prosecution was not in the public interest.

Charge

A charge is a formal accusation of a crime. A suspect charged with an offence will have to go to court where they will be expected to plead guilty or not guilty to the charge.

A suspect will only be charged if the police or prosecutor believe (a) there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction, and (b) it is in the public interest to prosecute.

Simple Caution

A simple caution is a formal warning given by the police to an adult (a person aged 18 or over) who admits committing an offence. Certain conditions must be satisfied before a simple caution can be given. A link to Guidelines for police officers and Crown Prosecutors on how and when to issue a simple caution for minor offences or first-time offenders can be found here.

Conditional Caution

A conditional caution is a caution with one or more conditions attached. Criminal proceedings for the offence are halted while a person is given an opportunity to comply with the conditions. Where the conditions are complied with, a prosecution is not normally commenced.

A conditional caution can be given only to offenders aged 18 or over. Offenders under the age of 18 may receive a youth caution.

Further information on Conditional Cautions can be found here.

Youth Caution

Youth Cautions are a formal out-of-court disposal that can be used as an alternative to prosecution for young offenders (aged 10 to 17) in certain circumstances.

A Youth Caution may be given for any offence where the young offender admits an offence, there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction, but it is not in the public interest to prosecute.

To read more about Youth Cautions, click here.

Referral to the Youth Offending Team

Following a referral to the YOT from the police, the YOT may carry out an assessment and offer a rehabilitation programme for a youth who has never received a Youth Caution or Youth Conditional Caution at their discretion.

Community Resolution

This is an informal warning given by the police for low level offences. It can only be given where the person admits committing an offence.

A Community Resolution may be used with both youth and adult offenders. It is primarily aimed at first time offenders where genuine remorse has been expressed, and where the victim has agreed that they do not want the police to take more formal action.

Penalty Notice for Disorder

A PND is a type of fixed penalty notice for a specified range of low-level offences. An admission of guilt is not required, but there must be sufficient evidence to support a successful prosecution.

Where the PND is paid in full, that discharges any liability to be convicted of the penalty offence but the paying of the penalty is not an admission of guilt.

To read more about a Penalty Notice for Disorder, click here.

Caution Plus 3 interviews (voluntary interviews)

WHAT IS A CAUTION PLUS 3 INTERVIEW?

A caution plus 3 interview is a formal police interview which usually takes place at a police station.

The person being interviewed is suspected of having committed an offence or offences. The purpose of the interview is for the police to obtain evidence from that person by questioning them.

A person attending a police station voluntarily can leave the station at any time. If, however, they decide to leave before the interview is over, the police may have grounds to arrest them in order to keep them there until they have finished questioning them.

A person attending the police station voluntarily is entitled to free legal advice from an independent solicitor.

At the beginning of the interview the person being interviewed will be cautioned. The caution is a warning the police give at the start of every interview, and is as follows: ‘You do not have to say anything. But it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence.’ Once the officer has cautioned the person, they will begin questioning them. Anything said in the interview can be used as evidence.

WHAT HAPPENS AT A CAUTION PLUS 3 INTERVIEW?

If a person is legally represented, their representative will be able to obtain information from the police about the allegation before the interview.

The police must provide sufficient information to enable the person to understand the nature of the offence under investigation, and why they are suspected of having committed it.

The police are not required to disclose details at a time which might prejudice the investigation. The decision about what needs to be disclosed rests with the investigating officer.

Having obtained information from the police, the solicitor will consult with the person in private to obtain their account of the incident and advise them accordingly. A room will be provided for this.

The solicitor will advise the person on their legal position, and what they should do in the interview i.e. answer questions, remain silent or give in a prepared statement. After consulting with the solicitor, the person will be interviewed.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN AFTER THE INTERVIEW?

The officer will refer the case to a sergeant or evidential review officer for a decision to be made regarding the outcome.

Some matters will need to be referred to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for a decision to be made. To learn more about how the CPS decide cases, take a look at the Code for Crown Prosecutors. A link can be found here.

WHAT ACTION CAN THE POLICE TAKE?

There are a number of possible outcomes following a police interview. 

No Further Action

A decision has been made not to take the matter any further, either because there was insufficient evidence to charge, or it was decided a prosecution was not in the public interest.

Charge

A charge is a formal accusation of a crime. A suspect charged with an offence will have to go to court where they will be expected to plead guilty or not guilty to the charge.

A suspect will only be charged if the police or prosecutor believe (a) there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction, and (b) it is in the public interest to prosecute.

Simple Caution

A simple caution is a formal warning given by the police to an adult (a person aged 18 or over) who admits committing an offence. Certain conditions must be satisfied before a simple caution can be given. A link to Guidelines for police officers and Crown Prosecutors on how and when to issue a simple caution for minor offences or first-time offenders can be found here.

Conditional Caution

A conditional caution is a caution with one or more conditions attached. Criminal proceedings for the offence are halted while a person is given an opportunity to comply with the conditions. Where the conditions are complied with, a prosecution is not normally commenced.

A conditional caution can be given only to offenders aged 18 or over. Offenders under the age of 18 may receive a youth caution.

Further information on Conditional Cautions can be found here.

Youth Caution

Youth Cautions are a formal out-of-court disposal that can be used as an alternative to prosecution for young offenders (aged 10 to 17) in certain circumstances.

A Youth Caution may be given for any offence where the young offender admits an offence, there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction, but it is not in the public interest to prosecute.

To read more about Youth Cautions, click here.

Referral to the Youth Offending Team

Following a referral to the YOT from the police, the YOT may carry out an assessment and offer a rehabilitation programme for a youth who has never received a Youth Caution or Youth Conditional Caution at their discretion.

Community Resolution

This is an informal warning given by the police for low level offences. It can only be given where the person admits committing an offence.

A Community Resolution may be used with both youth and adult offenders. It is primarily aimed at first time offenders where genuine remorse has been expressed, and where the victim has agreed that they do not want the police to take more formal action.

Penalty Notice for Disorder

A PND is a type of fixed penalty notice for a specified range of low-level offences. An admission of guilt is not required, but there must be sufficient evidence to support a successful prosecution.

Where the PND is paid in full, that discharges any liability to be convicted of the penalty offence but the paying of the penalty is not an admission of guilt.

To read more about a Penalty Notice for Disorder, click here.

Yasar Saleem | Consultant Solicitor | Law Society No 290016 | Member of the Law Society Criminal Litigation Accreditation Scheme | Consultant at Martin Murray & Associates | 0800 246 5559 / 07780 707 824 | Chapel House 152-156 High Street Yiewsley, West Drayton, Middlesex, UB7 7BE | The Pavilions, Stoke Gardens, Slough SL1 3QD