Do you have to answer police questions?
When you are arrested by police you have the right to remain silent. This is a fundamental legal right which underpins our legal system. That is, you do not have to say anything to police or answer any of the questions they ask you.
When police arrest you, they will ask a number of “informal” questions before asking whether you want to be interviewed or make a written statement. You do not have to answer their questions, participate in an interview or make a written statement. Police cannot force you to give answers, or participate in an interview or make a statement.
You need to be aware that anything you say to the police can be used as evidence against you at a later stage. That is, anything you say to police when you are in your house, on the street, in the police vehicle and while waiting to be charged at the station. Police make notes of what is said in their official notebooks which can be used as evidence against you if you are charged.
Often police will say that they need to electronically record you stating that you do not wish to participate in an interview. This is not the case. You are able to simply tell them you do not wish to participate in an interview. Police may also say they want to show you CCTV footage or photographs. Again, you do not have to, and if you choose to view those things remember anything you do say can be used against you in court.
If you receive legal advice and decide not to participate in an interview or provide a statement, this cannot be used against you in court.
There are however some very limited exceptions to this rule. This is why it is important that you obtain legal advice prior to saying anything or making a statement. If you are not able to contact a lawyer prior to being charged my advice is to remain silent until you are able to speak with a lawyer.