Have you been interviewed by the police and released under investigation?
If so we can help. Prior to 2017 individuals under investigation by the police would normally be bailed pending the outcome of the investigation. Whilst bail is still an option, it can only be imposed for limited periods. Often, someone under investigation find themselves ‘released under investigation’ either immediately after an interview or after a short period on bail.
The problem with being ‘released under investigation’ is that the investigation may be ongoing for many months.
There is no date to work towards. A suspect’s life is on hold. They do not know when the investigation will be completed, when property will be returned, they may be unable to return to the family home, worried about publicity, unsure as to whether they can apply for a job. The uncertainty and anxiety of being under investigation places a huge burden upon someone despite the fact that no charges have even been brought.
This is the point at which a suspect needs to consider what proactive steps should be taken on their behalf. This is where the choice of defence legal team is so important.
It is particularly important that defence teams give thought to early ‘pre-charge engagement’ with investigating officers. This is not a new concept, and at Olliers we have always looked to engage with investigators throughout an investigation. However, the term is now formally recognised (see below).
It is equally important that a defence team, insofar as possible, monitors the investigation and considers whether investigators are complying with the DPP’s Guidance on Charging (see below).
‘Pre-charge engagement’ and the Director of Public Prosecution’s Guidance on Charging 2020
Consideration should be given to ‘pre-charge engagement with the police’ in accordance with the Attorney General’s Guidelines on Disclosure (which came into effect on 31st December 2020). The defence team should also be monitoring progress of the investigation ensuring that the investigation follows the Director of Public Prosecution’s Guidelines on Disclosure (published 31st December 2020).
Now, for the first time, there is formal recognition of the process for engagement between defence lawyers and investigators. There is also detailed Guidance on the way in which investigations are conducted and the manner in which material is presented to the Crown Prosecution Service.
How can Olliers Solicitors help me?
Watch Matthew Claughton discussing how Olliers Solicitors can help you if you have been released under investigation.
The Investigations team at Olliers focus on a front footed, proactive approach which involves early police contact. We look at all potential avenues of investigation and defence lines of enquiry.
Pre-charge engagement refers to any voluntary engagement between parties to an investigation after the first interview under caution.
It may involve (amongst other matters):
- Giving a suspect the opportunity to comment on further lines of enquiry
- Establishing whether a suspect can identify additional lines of enquiry
- Asking a suspect whether they can provide access to digital material
- Discussing ways to overcome barriers to obtaining evidence
- Agreeing key word searches of digital material
- Obtaining a suspect’s consent to access medical records
- A suspect identifying and providing details of potential witnesses
- Clarifying whether expert or forensic evidence is agreed.
We will always look to provide the police or other investigators with sufficient material so as to prevent our client being charged. This may involve drawing their attention to material that supports the defence case including the following:
- Texts, emails and other electronic communication
- Social media activity
- Enquiries into CCTV
- Internet and other research
- Medical evidence
- Preparation of timelines and chronologies supportive of the defence
- Tracking down and speaking to witnesses who will support the defence case and subsequently invite the police to speak to these individuals.
On occasions we may draw to the attention of investigators information that sheds light on why a complaint has been made.
Representations against charge
We consider whether the ‘Charging Standard’ contained within the Code for Crown Prosecutors is met. We look to argue that there is not a ‘realistic prospect of a conviction’ or that a prosecution is not ‘in the public interest’. See two earlier articles in which this approach is discussed;
Our ‘Investigations’ page contain a number of case studies which illustrate what we have been able to achieve.
Some frequently asked questions
If you are released on bail you are no longer held in custody, however certain conditions are placed on you upon release. These conditions may include restrictions on persons you may contact or a fixed address at which you must stay.
Alternatively, you may be released under investigation, this is where the police suspect you of committing a criminal offence but do not have sufficient evidence to meet the charging standard. As they cannot charge you they must release you, whilst they investigate the matter further.
If you are released on under investigation, you are not subject to the conditions that may be placed on you if you are released on bail. You are not required to attend the police again whilst released under investigation.
This can leave you in limbo and not receive any update for an indefinite period.
If you are contacted by the police, please contact Olliers solicitors immediately and we can provide clear guidance of the process of what will happen next. Our vastly experienced solicitors are able available to assist you throughout your case and the police investigations.
You will be informed about the result of the investigations into you eventually but there is no specific timeframe for long this could take.
This can cause significant anxiety and stress as the police do not have any time limits on how long they can investigate you for. It will depend on the complexities of the matter including the police obtaining witness statements. If the case is less serious you may expect to hear from the police within a few months but in more serious or complex cases it could take multiple months or possible up to a year or longer.
At Olliers solicitors, we make frequent contact with the police, and continue to ask for the police to provide us updates on their investigations.
The police are able to seize your belongings to use as potential evidence to assist in their investigations. The police are able to keep your property for the duration of their analysis of that particular item or for the duration of their overall investigation into you, should they require to.
If you instruct Olliers Solicitors we will make frequent contact with the police in order try to have try to have your belongings returned to you, or determine if the police do not intend to return your property imminently.
There is nothing preventing you from travelling abroad whilst under investigation. However, it is advisable to make the police aware if you plan to leave the country. If you fail to inform the police and are abroad for a significant period you may miss important correspondence from the police. If you instruct Olliers solicitors we can contact the police on your behalf to inform them that you will be abroad.
There are no clear limits for how long they may keep your property. The police may require to send your property to be forensically tested. The items that may be seized could include mobile phones, laptops, documentation, vehicles or clothing.
Generally, following interview, the police are not able to charge you, but are not willing to disregard you as a suspect, and want more time. Therefore, you are no longer held in custody and not subject to bail conditions.
The police will contact your to provide you with results of their investigation. You will either receive a summons to attend court or receive a no further action.
Should you want to change your representation to Olliers, you can instruct us to act for you. We will contact your previous solicitor to obtain the required information to represent you.
Contact our Investigations solicitors
If you would like to discuss how we can proactively assist you in relation to your case at a pre-charge stage, contact Ruth Peters or Matthew Claughton by telephone on 0161 834 1515, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or complete the form below and we will contact you.