Why Might a Police Officer Require an Interview with Students at School?

You might have seen in the movies, or even witnessed in real life, a child being interviewed at their school. In this article, we’re going to explain why this might happen.

Although it certainly doesn’t happen all the time, there may be cause for the police to interview a child, or collection of children, on school premises. When you are invited to do a voluntary interview with the police, UK law requires children under the age of 18 to be supervised by an appropriate adult. This adult does not necessarily need to be a parent or legal guardian; instead a child can be interviewed at their school with a teacher present.

Surprisingly, a voluntary police interview done at school isn’t an uncommon situation, but why is this? We’re going to find out, so keep reading to learn more…

What is a Voluntary Police Interview?

A voluntary police interview, or occasionally referred to as an interview under caution, does not mean you are under arrest. It is usually done where you are suspected of being involved with a crime. You do not legally have to attend the interview, and if you do attend you are able to leave at any given point, although in further investigations this may reflect badly.

Even though the interview is considered as informal, we would always recommend seeking legal advice and assistance before answering any questions with the police. The reason for this – and you’ve probably heard in movies – is that anything you say can be used as evidence against you in court (where the investigation leads to prosecution).

An experienced solicitor will assist in protecting your legal rights, ensuring you know all of the available options first and help you in the chance of any further investigations.

For more information with regards to voluntary interviews and what they are, the GOV.UK website can provide further information.

Why Can a Police Officer Require an Interview with Students at School?

The Incident May Have Taken Place on School Premises

This may occur when a child or multiple children are involved with an incident that has occurred on school premises, and the school has directly contacted the police, usually where it is a serious matter. The police are more likely to visit the children involved on school premises, and potentially on the same day as the incident. It would be unnecessary to interview the child at home or in a police station.

To Avoid Parents Preventing Children from Participating in Police Interview

As we have mentioned above, police officers do not have to inform a child’s parents when they are conducting a voluntary interview. They only need an appropriate adult overseeing the interview.

In a school setting, a teacher is counted as an appropriate adult. A reason that the police may choose to have the interview conducted at school is because the child’s parents will not need to be informed, or oversee the interview. If they are there, they may prevent it from continuing, which can cause issues for the police when trying to conduct an investigation.

Children May be More Open and Honest

Where a child has potentially been a witnessed or involved with a crime – whether they are a victim or participant – it is important for the child to feel comfortable during their interview.

The police may decide to conduct it at that child’s school due to it being a familiar and safe environment that they trust, particularly if they have the support and company of a staff member that they know and trust. Being in a familiar location over one that feels unfamiliar and scary might mean the child is more honest and open about the situation, rather than fearful and tense.

The Matter Being Investigated Involves the Child’s Family Member

There might be times where the police choose to interview a child at their school because they are the victim of a crime that has been committed by a family member. If the child is at further risk of harm and it is not deemed appropriate to interview them at home, it is in the child’s best interest for them to be interviewing on school property instead.

Students Can Refuse an Interview at School

It’s often that children do not understand many aspects of the law, such as their rights when it comes to an interview. Police can come across as intimidating and scary when you are a child, and you often want to do everything they ask. But, we’re here to inform you that, if you are asked to participate in a voluntary interview at school, you do not have to say yes, you do not have to answer their questions, and you are entitled to legal advice from a professional solicitor.

If you are a child or a parent of a child and want to learn more about your legal rights in this regard, knowmyrights.org.uk can provide further essential details.

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