An interview under caution is a formal interview, which is
usually tape recorded to ensure that an accurate record is taken.
It is conducted under The Police & Criminal Evidence Act 1984,
which is the rules of how we must treat you during the
An interview under caution cannot be conducted by telephone or
What is the Police & Criminal Evidence Act 1984?
The Police & Criminal Evidence Act 1984 is a law by which
all investigators must abide by. There are six codes of practice
contained within the Police & Criminal Evidence Act 1984. The
Codes are issued by the Home Secretary and have been approved by
The codes deal with contacts between investigators and the
public in the exercise of certain powers. The codes regulate an
investigator's powers and procedures in the investigation of
criminal offences and set down safeguards and protections for
members of the public.
The codes provide a clear statement of the rights of the
individual and the powers of the investigators. Copies of the codes
of issued under the Police & Criminal Evidence Act 1984 must be
readily available for consultation. A copy of the codes of practice
is available in any interview under caution conducted by council
The codes of practice, which are relevant to the work of a
council investigator are:
- Code B: Searching of premises and seizure of property. This
code governs the exercise of police powers in respect of the
searching of premises and the seizure of property found by police
officers on persons and premises. This code was last revised on the
1st April 2003. The Benefit Fraud Team at Peterborough City Council
does not have the right to search persons or premises nor does it
have the right to seize property although members of the team may
accompany a Police Officer during a search if they included on the
- Code C: Detention, treatment and questioning. The purpose of
this code is to ensure that all persons suspected of being involved
in crime, and others who are in police custody, are dealt with
fairly and properly in accordance with the law. This code was last
revised on the 1st April 2003. The Benefit Fraud Team at
Peterborough City Council does not have the right to detain
persons. However this code does apply to the cautioning and
questioning of individuals therefore the Benefit Fraud Team must
adhere to this code.
- Code E: Audio recording of interview with suspects. This code
deals with the audio tape recording of interview with persons
suspected of certain types of criminal offences and governs the way
in which tape recorded interview are carried out. This code was
last revised on the 1st April 2003. The Benefit Fraud Team at
Peterborough City Council must abide by this code during its tape
recorded interviews under caution.
Why do we have to interview under caution?
If you are invited to attend an interview under caution then it
does not mean that you have done anything wrong. However, where it
appears that an offence has been committed then we are duty bound
to inform you of your legal rights and interview you under caution.
The interview under caution is to enable the council to establish
the facts and is also your opportunity to give your side of the
We cannot discuss the allegation before the interview either in
person or by telephone. This may sound obstructive but we have to
inform you of your legal rights before we question you and also
ensure that everything that is said is recorded.
What are my legal rights?
Your legal rights are very important and are in place to ensure
that you are treated correctly by the council officers. You will be
cautioned in the same way that the Police do, which is:
"You do not have to say anything but it may harm your defence if
you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely
on in Court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence."
The caution means that you do not have to answer any of our
questions. You can if you wish remain silent or say 'no comment'.
However if the matter went to Court and you give an answer at Court
that you could have given at the interview then the Court will
wonder why. The Court will draw its own conclusions as to why you
did not answer the question when you had the opportunity to. The
final part of the caution means that anything you do say can be
If you do not understand the caution then please tell us because
it is very important that you do understand it
When you attend an interview under caution, you are not under
arrest and the Council officers cannot detain you in any way. This
means that you have the right to leave at any time. If the council
officers are interviewing you under caution in your own house then
you may ask them to leave at any time.
You also have the right to have a legal representative
Who can I bring with me?
Due to the nature of the interview, the following people are the
only people allowed to be present with you to an interview under
- A legal representative such as a solicitor
- An appropriate adult
- An interpreter
You will need to arrange your own legal representation. We
cannot do this for you as it would be a conflict of interests. The
Citizens Advice Bureau can assist you in finding a solicitor and
determine whether or not you will be entitled to legal aid.
An appropriate adult is required when it is felt that the person
being interviewed is not capable of understanding the significance
of the interview.
We have a policy of using independent interpreters for
interviews where the customer's first language is not English. We
can also provide interpreters for customer's who are disabled and
find it difficult to hear what is discussed during the
In the kind of interviews that the Benefit Fraud team do, it is
absolutely essential that a customer understands everything that is
discussed during the interview. The interpreters we use are trained
to a very high standard .
What happens at an interview under caution?
At the interview, we will explain how the tape machine works and
that we will be using brand new tapes, which we will open in front
of you. We will then start the interview and go through your legal
rights. After this, we will ask you questions about your benefits.
The council's officers are under a duty to try to establish the
truth about what has happened.
What happens after an interview under caution?
If new information has emerged during the interview, the council
may need to make further enquiries and consider your case again
once these have been completed.
It is possible that the council will need to interview you
again. If this is the case we will write to requesting that you
attend a further appointment.
How long will it take before I know what action will be
This depends on the nature of the case but usually the council
will write to within two months of the interview to advise you of
their decision. Where the decision is likely to take longer than
two months, the council will write to advise you of this and when
it is likely that a decision will be made.
What action can the we take?
Where we believe that there is no evidence of an offence having
been committed or even though there is evidence, the council does
not feel that it is in the public interest to take further action,
we will write to you and tell you that we will not be taking
proceedings against you. This does not stop us from collecting any
benefit that has been overpaid to you.
Where we believe that there is sufficient evidence to sanction
or prosecute you, the council will consider, in accordance with its
prosecution policy, what further action will be taken.