Pace 2018 CODE C contains updates for voluntary interviews, therefore we have created a summary of those changes. It’s hard to replace old knowledge with new. As a result, we’ve also included details on how they have been updated from the 2017 code.
The Home Office has summarised the changes for voluntary suspect interviews. The changes comprise new and amended provisions which set out in full the rights, entitlements and safeguards that apply. When you are arranging for the interview to take place it sets out the procedure to be followed. The changes take account of concerns that some suspects might not realise that a voluntary interview is just as serious and important as being interviewed after arrest. This applies particularly when the interview takes place in the suspect’s own home rather than at a police station. The approach mirrors that which applies to detained suspects on arrival at the police station with the interviewer standing in for the custody officer. It requires the suspect to be informed of all their rights, entitlements and safeguards that will apply before they are asked to consent to the interview and to be given a notice to explain those matters. You can find the original document here.
Introducing a new definition of vulnerable – Code C 2018 1.13(c)
‘Vulnerable’ applies to any person who, because of a mental health condition or mental disorder
(i) may have difficulty understanding or communicating effectively about the full implications for them of any procedures and processes connected with:
their arrest and detention; or (as the case may be)
their voluntary attendance at a police station or their presence elsewhere,
for the purpose of a voluntary interview; and
the exercise of their rights and entitlements.
(ii) does not appear to understand the significance of what they are told, of questions they are asked or of their replies;
(iii) appears to be particularly prone to:
becoming confused and unclear about their position;
providing unreliable, misleading or incriminating information without
knowing or wishing to do so;
accepting or acting on suggestions from others without consciously
knowing or wishing to do so; or
readily agreeing to suggestions or proposals without any protest or question.
A person may be vulnerable as a result of a having a mental health condition or mental disorder. Similarly, simply because an individual does not have, or is not known to have, any such condition or disorder, does not mean that they are not vulnerable for the purposes of this Code. It is therefore important that the custody officer in the case of a detained person or the officer investigating the offence in the case of a person who has not been arrested or detained, as appropriate, considers on a case by case basis, whether any of the factors described above might apply to the person in question. In doing so, the officer must take into account the particular circumstances of the individual and how the nature of the investigation might affect them and bear in mind that juveniles, by virtue of their age will always require an appropriate adult.
The Mental Health Act 1983 Code of Practice at page 26 describes the range of clinically recognised conditions which can fall within the meaning of mental disorder.