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Policies and Procedures

Voluntary Attendance Procedure.

22/11/2017 11:58:26

Governing Policy 

Treatment of Offenders Policy



The purpose of this procedure is to give guidance to Surrey Police officers and staff on the considerations to be made and procedures to be followed when people attend police stations and other designated locations on a voluntary basis to be interviewed under caution in relation to an offence which they are suspected of committing/being involved in. 

1. Voluntary Attendance v Arrest

1.1 Before a lawful arrest can be made under section 24 of PACE, a constable MUST, in his or her own mind, have reasonable grounds for believing that the arrest is necessary for at least one of the reasons detailed in section 24(5). Whilst the power of arrest must never be used simply because it can be used and PACE Code G1.3 requires that an officer should always consider if the necessary objectives can be met by other, less obtrusive, means, it is for the arresting officer to make the operational decision as to whether or not it is necessary to arrest a suspect. 

1.2 Where an arrest is not deemed necessary people may be interviewed out of custody. Voluntary attendance is covered under section 29 of PACE 1984 and states, “where for the purpose of assisting with an investigation a person attends voluntarily at a police station or at any other place where a constable is present or accompanies a constable to a police station or any such other place without having been arrested - 

(a) he/she shall be entitled to leave at will unless he is placed under arrest;
(b) he/she shall be informed at once that he is under arrest if a decision is taken by a constable to prevent him from leaving at will.

Notes Confusion about the status of the suspect often arises in circumstances where a suspect has attended at a police station voluntarily. If, at any time during the suspect's visit, the investigating officer concludes that he/she should not be allowed to leave because the officer suspects that he/she has committed an offence and an arrest is necessary, then the suspect is effectively under arrest at a police station, but not under the direct authority of the custody officer, and the officer should -

  • Tell the suspect that he is under arrest and take him before the custody officer – Code C para 3.21;
  • Caution the suspect unless he was recently cautioned, see Code C para 10.4(b);
  • Tell the suspect that he is under arrest and take them before the custody officer Code C para 3.21;

However, the officer must ensure that the necessity test is satisfied and officers are advised to detail the reason(s). If the necessity test cannot be fulfilled then the suspect is free to leave at any time. The necessity test is covered under PACE Code G.

Procedure Statement

2. Considerations

2.1 Nature of offence

In determining whether voluntary attendance is a suitable course of action the seriousness of the offence and any associated risk to persons should be considered. Where it is likely that property searches, forensic capture or bail conditions are required then the use of voluntary attendance may not be appropriate. Voluntary attendance should never be considered for people suspected of committing serious sexual offences/child abuse (whether historic or not) without the authority of a Detective Inspector

2.2 Vulnerability/age of suspect

The use of voluntary attendance should always be considered for children (aged 17 and under) who are suspected of having committed an offence unless any of the above factors apply. They must have an Appropriate Adult (AA) present during their interview – Code C11.15. Code C1.5A extends this requirement to 17 year old suspects.

“A juvenile or a person who is mentally disordered or otherwise mentally vulnerable must not be interviewed regarding their involvement or suspected involvement in a criminal offence or offences, or asked to provide or sign a written statement under caution or record of interview in the absence of the appropriate adult unless paragraph 11.1 or paragraphs 11.18 - 11.20 apply.”

“appropriate consent” in relation to Interviews means— 

(a) in relation to a person of 17 years, the consent of that person; 
(b) in relation to a person who has not attained that age but has attained the age of 14 years, the consent of that person and his parent or guardian; and 
(c) in relation to a person under 14 years, the consent of their parent or guardian;

A parent, guardian or other close family member acting as an appropriate adult must be in attendance before any of the procedures detailed above are conducted. It should be expected that a parent or guardian will be expected to fulfil this role and a request of the volunteer Appropriate Adult service (SAAVS) should only be considered in exceptional circumstances.

Juveniles who attend voluntarily will not remain on police premises for more than 1 hour awaiting the arrival of a parent, guardian or other appropriate adult. After this time, arrangements will be made for the juvenile to return with a parent or guardian.

A Child at Risk Form (39/24) must be raised and submitted through Niche whenever a child is suspected of involvement in criminal activity (whether arrested, in custody, voluntary attender or other circumstances). This must be completed prior to termination of duty.

Where a person is under the influence of drink or drugs they should not be invited to attend the police station for a voluntary interview.

Where a person has mental health issues they should not be interviewed voluntarily without the presence of an AA and consideration should be given to contacting Criminal Justice Liaison and Diversion (CJLDS) mental health professionals (see below.)

2.3 Health and Safety

Before a person attends for voluntary interview all relevant background checks including warning markers should be assessed and any necessary control measures put in place. 

3. Process

3.1 Location

A voluntary interview may be carried out at any of the following police stations/custody centres where there are interview rooms containing audio recording equipment - Guildford, Staines, Reigate and Woking police stations and a designated interview room at Salfords Custody Centre.

Those located at premises managed by Front Counters staff can be booked in advance by completing the Visitors Form.

3.2 Niche

All interviews by way of voluntary attendance must be recorded on Niche via the Voluntary Attendance Suite (VAS) whiteboard on Niche once the suspect attends the police station (not before) to ensure that the relevant updates are sent to PNC etc.

3.3 Rights

When a suspect has attended a police station voluntarily and been cautioned, he/she must be given a copy of form 38/38V – “Notice to a Person Not Arrested – Legal Advice” and advised that: 

  • They are not under arrest, 
  • They are not obliged to remain at the police station/premises. 
  • If they agree to remain, they may obtain free and independent legal advice. 
  • They have the right to be informed of the offence/s they are suspected of,  the grounds and reasons for suspicion and whether they wish to exercise that Right
  • They may exercise these Rights at the time, or at any time whilst being asked questions.

It must be determined whether they require:

  • An AA and help to check documentation and/or
  • An interpreter and the provision of interpretation/translation services – and informing of that right (Code C3.21)

3.4 Interpreter Services

If an interpreter is required, the Officer in Case (OIC) should contact one via Language Line and this should be done in advance of the interview.  

3.5 Legal Advice 

If legal advice is requested the OIC should make necessary arrangements in advance e.g. if the suspect has a nominated legal representative they should be asked to attend at the agreed time or if the suspect wishes to use the duty solicitor scheme this can be done 48 hours in advance by dialing the Duty Solicitor Call Centre (DSCC).  If the suspect decides on arrival at the police station that they wish to speak with a solicitor or have one attend then this can be done through the DSCC on the day itself.

3.6 Appropriate Adult

(AA) If an AA is required this should be arranged in advance (if possible) with the suspects parent/guardian/carer to attend. If a suitable AA cannot be arranged you should contact the Surrey Appropriate Adult Service (SAAVs) providing details of the person to be interviewed, date, time, location etc. on the on-line form, via  providing 48 hours’ notice of the proposed interview and follow the guidance. Please note that the SAAVS office is not managed at weekends and late Friday, so requests should allow for this. Following the on-line booking the SAAVS office will acknowledge the request and email the officer with details of the AA attending and their contact number should arrangements need to be amended. The AA must be met by the investigating officer and the AA will wait for up to 30 minutes. It is important to note that if for some reason the interview has to be cancelled, rescheduled or the suspect does not turn up the AA must be updated immediately.

If the interview and AA is required immediately, the on-call duty AA may be requested via the custody dedicated management system which is controlled by the Custody Sergeant. The AA will be on-call to custody, which may take priority.

4. Offence Disposal

Once a suspect has been interviewed as part of the investigation the OIC will decide on the most appropriate disposal which may be that no further action is taken, the suspect is reported for the offence in question or is given an out of court disposal (Simple Caution or Conditional Caution, Penalty Notice for Disorder or Community Resolution). Where a child or young person is interviewed out of custody consideration should be given to contacting the Youth Restorative Intervention (YRI) team.


5. Fingerprints, Photographs and Samples

A suspect who is interviewed voluntarily at the police station will not have their photograph taken, regardless of the disposal.
PACE 1984 Code D 4.2: A person's fingerprints may be taken in connection with the investigation of an offence only with their consent, unless a provision of section 61 of PACE applies. If the person is at a police station consent must be in writing.

Fingerprints may be taken without consent from any person over the age of ten years where a person not detained in a police station (e.g. a VA) has been charged with a recordable offence or informed that they will be reported for such an offence and either they have not previously had their fingerprints taken in the course of the investigation or had them taken but they proved inadequate for analysis (s.61 5B). 

An inspector’s authority is required before fingerprints can be taken after conviction or caution for a recordable offence and they have not had their fingerprints taken since the conviction/caution or they have been taken, but are inadequate for analysis. (s.61 6) 

A non-intimate sample may be taken without consent from a person (whether or not in police detention) if they have been charged with a recordable offence or informed that they will be reported for such an offence if they have not had one taken from them in the course of the investigation of the offence or has had a sample taken but it proved unsuitable or insufficient (s.63 3A). 

An inspector’s authority is required before a non-intimate sample can be taken after conviction or caution for a recordable offence and who has not had a non-intimate sample taken since the conviction/caution or has had such a sample taken but it is unsuitable or insufficient for analysis. 

There are no facilities in interview rooms (VA Suites) to take fingerprints and therefore these will be taken in a custody suite by a Designated Detention Officer (on LiveScan) but will not constitute the suspect being in `police detention’ for this purpose.

Policing and Crime Act 2017 – Bail implications 

If a suspect has previously been arrested and is under investigation in circumstances where there is insufficient to re-arrest, they may be invited in for Voluntary Interview.

Biometrics will have been taken previously, therefore on completion of the VA process, a cross-reference to the AS number must be made. This should be requested via a Niche Task to Data Bureau.

Additional guidance about amendments made to Bail in the Policing & Crime Act 2017 can be found at The Policing and Crime Act 2017: Pre-charge Bail Reform






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