Recently I got speaking to a lad who is due to be released and fears that, when he is, he will be rearrested for further crimes, and then immediately recalled by probation due to having been arrested. My advice to him was simple: as soon as you see a policeman looking at you, before they say a thing, tell them that you are happy to assist them with their enquiries, either there and then, or down at the station. You see, police regulations state that no one should be arrested if they are willing to be interviewed voluntarily, unless they are to be charged. By making it clear that you are absolutely willing to be interviewed, you should be able to avoid being arrested at all. So long as they don’t decide to charge you of course. And if they don’t arrest you, probation shouldn’t recall you. It’s that simple.
However, this is no guarantee. The police are known for doing what they want if they can get away with it, and there is always the chance that they will arrest you despite their own regulations. And if they do, there is little argument against it. The initial arrest might be wrongful, but anything that follows is still valid. So tactics such as this do buy you a chance, but not a certain one.
One example of the way the police abuse their lawful powers can be seen from police bail. If you are arrested and the police decide they don’t have enough evidence to charge you yet, they don’t just have to let you go. They can release you on police bail instead. In this case, you are required to return to the police station after a set period of time. When you do, the idea is that you will then be charged or released without any charges at all. But in reality, people are often re-released on police bail time after time, to return and return again.
There are people who have spent months, even years, with allegations hanging over their heads, never having been charged but perhaps unable to work, perhaps plagued by worry and stress, and perhaps for something they did not do at all.
It is even worse in prison. If you are accused of committing a crime in prison, and it is referred to the police, they often do not even interview you until months after the allegation is made. You are not arrested, you are not charged, you are not even questioned. You are just left to wait and worry, with the unexamined allegations hanging over you and affecting everything from parole and re-categorisation opportunities, to job applications and living conditions. What is more, this is only done because police are so overstretched that they see no reason to rush to deal with someone who is already in custody, but when they do finally have to deal with it, their job becomes much harder. Not only have the memories of any witnesses faded and become a whole lot more questionable, but often key lines of enquiry are no longer available, either because other prisoner witnesses have moved on or been released, or because evidence has been compromised by prison staff.
I have seen it time and again, and it isn’t likely to change any time soon. So yes, I did advise someone on how to use the police’s own regulations to his advantage. But not so he could not get away with something he had done. It was actually so that he wouldn’t have to spend time in jail for something he hadn’t done. Something which, if he hadn’t known how it works, would have been almost certain.