Police Interviews-what is OK and what is NOT

Police may one day ask you or someone you know to come to a police interview. Or ask you after an arrest whether you wish to partake in an electronic recorded police interview called an ERISP (Electronic Record of Interview with Suspected Person).

And it is not just people suspected of committing a crime police interview, police interview a range of people when investigating a crime such as, witnesses, family members, friends etc.

You do have the right to say NO to police, but if you do decide to partake in any police interview especially an ERISP, there are certain police interviewing practices that you should be aware of.

Below is a brief discussion of how police use certain tactics to elicit information and undertake police interviews.  

In an interview Police CAN: –

Ask you questions – seems simple enough but police can keep asking you questions even if you have said you do not want to answer their questions, or you have no comment.

Regardless police can continue to ask you questions. It is your choice to answer them. However, often when police continue pressing ahead with questions, people eventually start answering.

So if you really do not want to answer, just say no comment to each question asked in the interview.

Play good cop, bad cop – yes just like in the movies! Police can offset each other and pretend to understand you, agree with you, empathise with you, all to keep you talking and keep eliciting evidence.

On the other hand, they can also challenge you, or attempt to appeal to your suspected guilty mind or the lack of it.

Trick/Outsmart you – you must be aware that police are good at their jobs, they do it everyday and all the time. They have very good instincts when it comes to the type of questions to ask and the way in which to ask them. And you must be aware that if police have asked to interview you it is because some evidence or allegation has been made.

But that is not to say police are deliberately trying to take an innocent person and make them guilty, its just that they are very good interviewers, they know the elements and proof required for a crime and they know how to ask the right questions.

Interview you on and off for over 6 hours – yes that’s right six (6) hours. Police can detain you at the police station after an arrest for six (6) hours before they need to take you before a Court or seek an extension warrant.

However, even with all the benefits and knowledge of police they are under the Law just like the rest of us and they are many more things that they are NOT allowed to do when they are questioning people especially suspects in a criminal matter.

Police CANNOT:

  • Use entrapment, in other words police cannot attempt to trick you into believing a certain event happened, evidence exist and/or tell you there is only one way out of this situation.
  • Pose questions asking you to comment on the evidence or state of mind of other witnesses’ or their reliability.
  • Pose question that reverse the onus of proof on to you to prove something.  
  • Pose question belittling to you, or ridicule your account of events/incident.
  • Pose questions that tend to undermine your rights to silence.
  • Tell you that you must answer their questions.
  • Pose question to you that assume your guilty.
  • Promise you things in return for talking to them.
  • Tell you they can help you get off/reduce crime or sentence.
  • Physically or verbally abuse you

Therefore, before you decide to partake in any police interview, you should consult with a Lawyer or at the very least have a support person present with you.

Remember it is your legal right to say NO and it is your legal right to seek legal advice before you decide to be interviewed by police.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a criminal offence or have an employment dispute contact Rep-Revive Criminal & Employment Lawyers® for a free initial consultation.


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