Post-charge questioning by police

  laurie53 11:19 15 Feb 07
Locked

I've just read a news story that there is a move afoot to allow the police to question suspects after they have been charged.

I had no idea that they faced this sort of restriction, and quite frankly I'm amazed. It means, in effect, that they are only allowed to get enough evidence from the suspect to bring a charge, but not allowed to get enough to convict.

It is small wonder that they often can't bring charges, or have to apply for extra time.

I assume there is some sort of human rights input here, but I can't for the life of me see what it is.

Anyone more up on human rights than me who can straighten me out?

Laurie

  anskyber 11:32 15 Feb 07

Have you got a link to the story?

  Kate B 11:35 15 Feb 07

The CPS takes the case over once a suspect has been charged. Police used to prosecute but that was handed over to the CPS years ago, can't remember why but I think it was at least partly to free up police to be more reactive to crime. If you bog police officers down in developing a prosecution, they can't be out there dealing with newly committed offences.

Also, it means the CPS looks at the case with a fresh legal eye. Lawyers are best placed to know how to construct a legal case for the prosecution, not police officers, whose specialism is dealing with the immediate aftermath of crime.

  bremner 12:00 15 Feb 07

The restriction only applies to further questioning of the suspect on matters for which they have been charged - remember other than in terrorist cases a suspect can only be held without charge for a maximum 96 hours.

It does not stop the investigation uncovering new evidence post charge, which will be used in the prosecution. Many witness statements will be taken, forensic evidence obtained etc.

  Aargh 12:48 15 Feb 07

Code C of the Police & Criminal Evidence Act 1984
does allow post charge questioning for certain offences involving proceeds of crime & drug trafficking offences, where suspects can be interviewed to obtain details of assets that the courts may consider for confiscation.

For serious offences, the process may involve arrest,interview, bail, & re-interview several times until there is evidence to charge. On others, there may be sufficient evidence to charge with minimal interviewing.

Any evidence that comes to light post-charge will be put to the CPS for use at court.

It has always been the intention for the law to insist suspects are charged at the earliest opportunity. Otherwise suspects could find themselves eternally under investigation until the police had time to cover every line of evidence or defence during interview prior to charge.

  bremner 14:09 15 Feb 07

Your second paragraph is correct but the total period of detention, however fragmented, can only up to the maximum 96 hours.

  laurie53 18:20 15 Feb 07

Regret not; it was teletext

Laurie

  josie mayhem 18:53 15 Feb 07

I was under the impression that the CPS would look at a case/charge and the edvidence that the police had and decide whether the edvidence would stand up in a court of law.

It was brought in to help free up the courts and stop a lot is useless cases ending up in court that had little or no realistic edvidence to support a conviction...

Or for example... Before the CPS came into force a friend of mine who had gone to the local police station (can't remember why is was there)a chap walked past him with another policeman and the pointed to him and said he did it!

He was accussed of asulting this chap who he had never seen before! there was no edvidence apart from the hear say of this chap, my friend could prove and had witnesses to say that he was in another area of town that night... But it ended up in the local magistrates where he elected to go to crown court... Of course the prosucution had no edvidence case dismissed... A complete waste of time... If the CPS had been around it would have never gone to court in the first place...

  laurie53 19:09 15 Feb 07

I appreciate all the answers, but it still isn't clear why the police can't continue to question a suspect once they have been charged.

To put it simply the suspect says "I did it" the Police say "OK you're charged with ......." and then they are not allowed to say "Why did you do it?"

It's not logical

Laurie

  bremner 19:49 15 Feb 07

It is not like that at all. Where do you get the idea that questioning stops when someone says I did it?

If a suspect were to say I did it, they would face further questions possibly over many hours, so that as full a picture as possible is built up.

People do confess to crimes they haven't committed, it is the responsiblility of the police to test and challenge someone claims.

Long gone are the days when a prosecution would be undertaken purely on the basis of a confession.

  Forum Editor 20:07 15 Feb 07

It was done because there was concern about the number of Police prosecutions that were failing to result in convictions.

As far as I remember, when the changeover happened the CPS rule of thumb was that they would not proceed with a prosecution unless - in the opinion of the CPS solicitor - there was at least a 50% chance of a conviction, based on the evidence gathered by Police.

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