The Chief Fire Officers’ Association
DRAFT Fire Safety Policy Directive
Subject: INTERVIEW PROCEDURES
Abstract: Guidance for inspectors when carrying out interviews under PACE
1 INTRODUCTION 1
2 POLICE AND CRIMINAL EVIDENCE ACT 1984 1
3 THE VERBAL CAUTION 2
4 THE INTERVIEW 3
5 TAPE RECORDING OF INTERVIEWS 8
As part of the evidence gathering process inspectors will need to carry out the interview of
potential defendants and witnesses. The Fire Authority will adopt and apply, in any
investigation, prosecution or interview, the principles and procedures detailed in the Codes
of Practice issued under Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.
2 POLICE AND CRIMINAL EVIDENCE ACT 1984 (PACE)
2.1 The adoption of the correct procedures for gathering evidence, cautioning and
interviewing suspected offenders is paramount if a successful court action is to be
accomplished at a later stage. The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984
(PACE) came into force on 1 January 1986 of which Section 66, required the Home
Secretary to issue Codes of Practice which contain the following:
Code A - The exercise by Police Officers of Statutory Powers of Stop
Code B - The searching of premises by Police Officers and the seizure of
property found by Police Officers on persons at premises.
Code C - The detention, treatment and questioning of persons by Police
Officers, and other authorised inspectors.
Code D - The identification of persons by Police Officers, and other authorised
Code E - The tape recording of interviews with suspects.
Code F- Visual recording with sound of interviews with suspects.
2.2 Whilst Code A has no relevance to the Service, sections of Codes B, C, D and E do
have an application and must be followed. Code F will only apply where video
recording is used. The relevant areas are reproduced in this section.
3 THE VERBAL CAUTION
3.1 Persons, suspected of committing an offence, must be given the verbal caution
before any questions about the alleged offence (or further questions if it is their
answer to previous questions that provide the grounds for suspicion) are put to them
for the purpose of obtaining evidence which may be given to a court in a prosecution.
3.2 They need not be given the verbal caution if questions are put for other purposes, for
example, to establish their identity, or position in the company.
3.3 The verbal caution shall be in the following terms:
"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".
3.4 Once the caution has been given, it is a requirement that a clear understanding of the
meaning is confirmed with the recipient. It is not considered satisfactory simply to
ask if the recipient understands the caution. To assist, the following is a
suggested explanation of the caution:-
“You have the right to say nothing, what is said will be recorded. If you choose not
to say anything now but give an explanation or answer the questions later in court,
the court may think this is an indication of guilt”.
It is important that this explanation is also recorded in the prescribed form or
in the formal notebook
3.5 Minor deviations do not constitute a breach of this requirement provided that the
sense of the verbal caution is preserved.
3.6 A record shall be made when a verbal caution is given under this section, either in
the inspector‟s notebook or in the interview record as appropriate, together
with any reply, and the time.
3.7 If it appears that a person does not understand what the caution means, the inspector
who has given it, should go on to explain it in his/her own words.
3.8 When there is a break in questioning under caution the interviewer must ensure that
the person being questioned is aware that the caution still applies. If there is any
doubt the verbal caution must be given again in full when the interview
3.9 In considering whether or not to caution again after a break, the interviewer should
bear in mind that it may be necessary to satisfy a court that the person being
interviewed understood that they were still under caution when the interview
resumed, i.e. a short break then a simple “Do you understand that you are still under
caution” might suffice. If a longer break ensues the full caution needs to be given.
3.10 The caution has significant implications, it is important to understand the caution and
be able to give an explanation when requested. Failure to give and explain the
caution may mean that no adverse inferences can be drawn from the failure of the
accused to answer questions.
4 THE INTERVIEW
4.1 The purpose of the interview
At the discretion of the case officer, interviews will be conducted with any person
suspected of committing the alleged offence. In addition an interview will be
conducted with any person that may be able to offer any relevant information to
assist the investigation into the alleged offence, and is in a sufficient managerial
position to speak on behalf of the responsible person.
The purpose of the interview with the suspect is:
- To further clarify whether an offence has been committed.
- To clearly advise the interviewee that it is believed an offence may have been
committed and to make them aware of the legal implications.
- To offer the interiewee an opportunity to relate their view of the circumstances
surrounding the suspected offence.
- To gather information, which may be useful to establish the nature of any defence,
which in itself may have a bearing on whether the Authority proceeds with the
- To follow an accepted process for the gathering of information in support of
possible later court proceedings.
4.2 When to interview
Ideally the interview should not be carried out until all the preliminary evidence has
been gathered, including records, statements and exhibits etc. The interview can then
also be used as a means of clarifying matters, which have already come to light and
after consideration of :
- The seriousness of the offence
- Any previous history
- The willingness of the party to correct the situation and prevent reoccurrence
- An acceptable explanation for the occurrence
- The likelihood of the accused being able to establish due diligence in defence
- The probable public benefit of a successful prosecution
Initial inquiries will also have established the following:
- What the offence is
- Where the offence occurred
- When the offence occurred
- The person or persons responsible at the time (the suspect or suspects)
4.2.1 The inspector must research the contents of the premises file and the
background to the case.
4.2.2 An inspection must have been made of the premises. In cases where one
suspected offence has been reported, it may be that other contravention‟s
exist in separate parts of the premises. All such matters need to be addressed
during the interview.
4.2.3 The inspector must identify what offence has been committed.
4.2.4 The inspector must clearly identify who should be interviewed.
4.2.5 All practical attempts should have been made to remedy the offending matter
at the time of inspection, for example, in the case of a locked fire exit, all
attempts must be made by the occupier to make the exit available before any
further action/enquiries takes place.
4.3 Who to interview
4.3.1 If a prosecution is to be successful it is essential that the interview is held
with the correct person. This being someone who can speak on behalf of the
company or organisation i.e. the responsible person (e.g.
employer/owner/occupier/person who has control for the premises).
4.3.2 In order to avoid ambiguity, confusion and very long interviews, as far as
possible, only one person should be interviewed at a time.
4.3.3 It may be necessary to interview other persons, in order to ascertain all the
facts. Where, for example, an employee has taken action as an individual, that
person would also need to be interviewed to ascertain whether they were
acting with the approval of the employer. However, unless the employee is in
a manegerial position, the employee should be asked to complete a statement
under Section 9 Criminal Justice Act 1967, rather than being interviewed
4.4 Disadvantaged persons
A juvenile or a person who is mentally disordered or mentally vulnerable, whether
suspected or not, must not be interviewed or asked to provide or sign a
written statement except where the appropriate conditions in PACE have been
4.5 Where to interview
4.5.1 The Fire and Rescue Authority should make a written request to the
defendant for an interview, specifying the time, place and dates that would be
convenient to the Authority, the reason for the interview and that they may
wish to have a solicitor present to act on their behalf .
4.5.2 The interview should not be conducted in public. A suitable room or private
area should be identified and prepared before the interview commences.
4.6 How to conduct the interview
4.6.1 At the commencement of an interview each interviewing inspector (the
interviewer(s)) shall identify themselves and any other persons present by
name (and rank where necessary) to the person being interviewed.
4.6.2 The interview should be conducted in a polite but firm manner ensuring that,
by intimation, the matter is not trivialised or made unduly stressful.
4.6.3 The interviewer should adopt a style of question and answer, and not get
embroiled in a conversation over the matter or begin to give opinions. The
intention is to ascertain the facts.
4.6.4 The interviewer must not try to obtain an answer to questions or to elicit a
statement by the use of aggression, nor shall indicate except in answer to a
direct question, what action will be taken by the Fire and Rescue Authority if
the person being interviewed answers questions, makes a statement or refuses
to do either.
4.6.5 If the person being questioned asks the interviewer directly, what action will
be taken if they answer questions, make a statement or refuse to do either; the
interviewer may inform the person that the facts will be reported to the Fire
and Rescue Authority and that they will receive written notification as to
what further action will be taken.
4.6.6 The nature of the offence(s) shall be explained at the beginning of the
4.6.7 Once the correct person (the person suspected of the offence) has been
identified, that person must be cautioned in accordance with Code C of
PACE before proceeding with the interview.
4.6.8 A written record of the interview shall then be conducted in accordance with
4.6.9 The interviewer shall confirm to the person being interviewed that the
interview will be carried out in accordance with PACE.
4.6.10 A current copy of PACE should be readily available and on display in the
interview room when an interview is carried out on fire authority premises.
4.6.11 When a person has been given the caution during an interview at Fire
Authority premises, they must at the same time be told that they are not under
arrest and are free to leave at any time.
4.6.12 If a solicitor is not present, the person being interviewed should be offered
the opportunity to obtain legal advice, if they refuse they should be asked to
indicate their reason and this should be recorded.
4.6.13 If the option to take legal advice is taken by the interviewee, then reasonable
efforts to achieve this should be allowed. Where considerable delay is likely,
then the inspector should consider the benefits of arranging a formal
interview at a later time to allow the legal representative to be in attendance.
4.6.14 If a legal representative is present they have no right to ask or answer
questions on behalf of their client. They may ask to consult with their client,
but the interviewee must answer any questions put to them.
4.6.15 The suspect is not entitled as of right under PACE to have a friend or
colleague present. However, it would be good practice to permit this if the
suspect waives the right to have a lawyer present. This person only has the
rights referred to in the previous paragraph. He/she is not entitled to answer
questions on behalf of the suspect.
4.7.1 Appropriate arrangements must be in place for the provision of suitably
qualified interpreters for people who:
- are deaf or there is doubt about their hearing or speaking ability;
- do not understand English;
- is a juvenile whose parent or guardian present as the appropriate adult
appears to be deaf or there is doubt about their hearing or speaking ability.
The interview of a person described above shall not be conducted unless the
appropriate conditions in PACE have been met.
4.7.2 The interviewer must ensure that the interpreter makes a note of the interview
at the time in the language of the person being interviewed for use in the
event of their being called to give evidence, and certifies its accuracy. The
person being interviewed shall be given an opportunity to read it or have
it read to them and sign it as correct or to indicate the respects in which it is
considered inaccurate. If the interview is tape-recorded the arrangements set
out in the relevant Code of Practice shall apply.
4.7.3 In the case of a person making a statement in a language other than English.
h translation shall be made in due course.
4.7.4 If a person appears to be deaf or there is doubt about their hearing or
speaking ability, they must not be interviewed unless an interpreter is present
(unless they agree in writing to be interviewed without one). In such cases,
the interview should be terminated and the Fire Safety Management
informed immediately so that arrangements can be made for a suitable
interpreter to be found.
4.7.5 The Interviewer shall ensure that the interpreter makes a note of the interview
at the time, for use in the event of being called to give evidence and to certify
it accuracy. The person shall be given an opportunity to read it and sign it as
correct or to indicate the respects in which they consider it inaccurate.
4.7.6 All reasonable attempts must be made to make it clear to the person being
interviewed that interpreters will be provided at the Authorities expense.
4.7.7 Where the person being interviewed requires the attendance of a solicitor and
cannot communicate with the solicitor because of language, hearing or
speech difficulties an interpreter must be called.
4.7.8 Action taken to call an interpreter and any agreement to be interviewed
without one must be recorded either on the appropriate form or in the
4.8 Interview record
4.8.1 An accurate record must be made of each interview with a person suspected
of an offence. It must state the place of the interview, the time it begins and
ends, the time the record is made (if different), any breaks in the interview
and the names of all those present. It must be made on the prescribed
form for a pre-arranged interview or in the inspector‟s notebook.
4.8.2 The record must be made during the course of the interview, unless in the
interviewer‟s view this would not be practicable or would interfere with the
conduct of the interview. It must constitute a verbatim record of what has
been said, or failing this, an account of the interview which adequately and
accurately summarises it.
4.8.3 If an interview record is not made during the course of the interview it must
be made as soon as practicable after its completion and the reason must be
recorded on the prescribed form or in the inspector‟s notebook.
4.8.4 All written interview records must be timed and signed by the maker.
4.8.5 Any refusal by a person to sign an interview record when asked to do so in
accordance with the provisions of this code must itself be recorded.
4.8.6 Where a record of interview is made, an entry to this fact shall be made in the
inspector‟s notebook i.e.
On (date) at (time) I visited the premises known as (name and address of
premises) under the provisions of the (legislation) accompanied by (name,
rank and number) I established that (insert Mr, Mrs, etc., and name in full)
was the person responsible for the premises and I completed an interview
record which forms part of these notes. I left the premises at (time).
Signature of Accompanying Officer ..........…....Date.....................Time.............
4.8.7 A statement to the fact that the interview was conducted in accordance with
the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 should be made by the person
conducting the interview.
5 TAPE RECORDING OF INTERVIEWS
5.1 The „tape recording‟ of interviews with suspects must be carried out in accordance
with Code E of PACE.
5.2 The recording
5.2.1 The recording of the interview must be carried out in an open manner in order
to instil confidence in its reliability as an impartial and accurate record of the
5.2.2 The recording of the interview must be made simultaneously on two tapes,
one of the tapes will become the „master tape‟ and, at the conclusion
of the interview and in sight of the person being interviewed, the inspector will
break off the „record lugs‟ and seal the tape with a master tape label, which
will be signed by the interviewer, the person being interviewed and any third
party present, e.g., a solicitor. If either party refuses, an officer not below the
level of Group Manager should be called in to sign the label.
5.2.3 The second tape will become the working copy from which further copies can
be made and/or transcripts can be produced.
5.2.4 The recording machine should be capable of recording voices and have a time
coding or other security device.
5.3 The interview
5.3.1 The interview will normally be conducted at Service Headquarters but, at the
request of the person to be interviewed, may be conducted at any suitable
5.3.2 Before conducting the interview the interviewer(s) should be familiar with
the correct procedure for tape recorded interviews and use an Aide Memoir if
possible and follow it step by step.
5.3.3 When all parties are gathered in the venue for the interview the interviewer
shall briefly inform everyone present of the procedures that will
follow and then, without delay, unwrap and open new tapes in front of
the person to be interviewed, load them into the machine and start recording.
5.3.4 The interviewer will carry out the following:
- Tell the person to be interviewed the reason for the interview.
- Tell the person the interview is being recorded in accordance with PACE.
- Identify him/her self by name and rank/position, other inspectors/officers
present will also identify themselves by their name and rank/position
- Request the person being interviewed and any other person present (e.g., a
solicitor or representative), to identify themselves.
- Confirm the date, time and place of the interview.
- Inform the person being interviewed that he/she will be given a notice of
what will happen to the tapes, i.e., the tape selected to be the „master tape‟
will be sealed with the master tape label, This tape will be taken by the
interviewer and kept in a secure place. (See paragraph 5.5) The other tape
will become the working tape and a copy of it will be provided as soon as
practicable if the interviewee is to be prosecuted.
- Caution the person being interviewed.
- Advise the person being interviewed that they are "not under arrest" and are
free to leave at anytime.
- If the person being interviewed is not legally represented, then they must be
told that they are entitled to independent legal advice and if they wish, may
speak with a solicitor and if required, the use of a telephone shall be made
available. If legal advice is declined, the person should be asked why.
- Any previous significant statement or silence should be put to the person
being interviewed. An example of a significant statement is when a manager
volunteers an admission (e.g., "the means of escape was blocked as a result
of a Christmas delivery") during an inspection. An example of a significant
silence is when an inspector asks for further training or testing records, and
receives no reply from the responsible person.
- Should the person being interviewed refuse to answer questions, the
interviewer should not indicate the possible consequences of failing to
answer questions, unless asked to do so. If asked, the interviewer should
simply read the wording of the caution again.
5.3.5 When the recorder indicates that the tapes have only a short time left to run,
the inspector shall tell the person being interviewed that the tapes are coming
to an end and round off that part of the interview. The interviewer will
remove the tapes and insert the new tapes which shall be unwrapped or
opened in the presence of the person being interviewed. The interviewer will
mark the tapes with an identification number immediately they are removed
from the tape recorder.
5.3.6 When a break is taken and the person being interviewed vacates the interview
room, the tapes shall be removed from the tape recorder and the procedures
for the conclusion of an interview followed.
5.3.7 If there is a short break (5 minutes) and the inspector and the person being
interviewed stay in the interview room, the fact that a break is to be taken, the
reason for it, and the time, must be taped. The tape recorder may be turned
off, but there is no need to remove the tapes. When the interview
recommences, the person being interviewed shall be reminded that they are
under caution and (if unaccompanied by a legal representative) remind them
of their right to seek legal advice and speak with a solicitor over the
telephone. The tape recording shall continue on the same tapes. The time that
the interview recommences must be recorded.
5.3.8 It may be necessary for the interviewer to show to the court that nothing
occurred during a break between interviews which influenced the recorded
evidence of the person being interviewed. After a break or at the
beginning of a subsequent interview, the interviewer should consider
summarising on tape the reason for the break confirming this with the
person being interviewed.
5.3.9 Short interval/refreshment breaks should be taken at approximately two hour
5.3.10 At the conclusion of the interview the person being interviewed must be
offered the opportunity to clarify anything that they have said and asked if
there is anything they wish to add.
5.3.11 The interview should be concluded when the interviewer believes that:
- A prosecution should be brought against the person interviewed and
- that there is sufficient evidence for it to succeed.
- A prosecution should not be brought against the person interviewed and
- that there is insufficient evidence for it to succeed
5.4 Conclusion of the interview
5.4.1 At the conclusion of the interview the time shall be recorded and the tape
recorder switched off. The interviewer will remove the tapes and seal the
master tape with a master tape label and treat it as an exhibit in accordance
with the authority‟s policy. The interviewer shall sign the label and ask the
person interviewed and any third party present during the interview to sign it.
If there is a refusal to sign, an officer, not below the level of Group Manager,
must be called into the interview room and asked to sign it. The interviewer
must make a note in his/her notebook that the tape-recorded interview has
5.4.2 The person interviewed shall be handed a notice which explains:
- how the tape will be used
- the arrangements for access to it
- that if the person is informed that they will be prosecuted, a copy of the tape
will be supplied as soon as practicable or as otherwise agreed between
themselves and the Fire and Rescue Authority.
5.5 Tape security
The tape(s) are to be kept secure and any movement must be accounted for in the
same way as other material that may be used for evidential purposes.
5.6 Transcribing of recorded interview
The inspector who conducted the interview will, under normal circumstances, be
responsible for transcribing the particulars of the interview. A full transcription of
the interview is to be made in line with what is regarded as best practice by the
5.7 Opening and resealing of master tape(s)
If it is necessary to gain access to the master tape(s), the Fire and Rescue Authority
will arrange for the breaking of the master tape seal in the presence of a
representative of the authority‟s solicitors. The defendant or their legal representative
shall be informed and given a reasonable opportunity to be present. If the defendant
or their legal representative is present they should be invited to reseal and sign the
master tape(s). If either refuses or neither is present the representative of the
solicitors representing the Fire and Rescue Authority shall do this
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