The Richardson Guidelines

In Richardson, a teacher alleged to have assaulted a pupil voluntarily attended first one and then another police station by appointment, in order to be interviewed about the allegation in the presence of his solicitor. On his arrival at the second police station, he was arrested by the investigating officer “to allow the prompt and effective investigation of the offence or of the conduct of the person in question” (s.24(5)(e)).

On the facts, Mrs Justice Slade held that, given that the suspect had fully co-operated, and had attended the second police station knowing that he would be arrested (having been so told by the investigating officer at the first police station) and interviewed, there was no basis on which the investigating officer could have concluded that he might leave before the conclusion of the interview.

The Judge held that the arrest had been unlawful, establishing the following principles:

  1. it is not permissible to operate a blanket policy whereby everyone voluntarily attending a police station to be interviewed has to be
  2. arrested;
  3. instead, the decision whether or not to arrest must involve a consideration of the facts of the particular case;
  4. a conclusion that a suspect might leave before the conclusion of an interview must be based on evidence, taking into account the relevant circumstances, rather than on general propositions;
  5. where there is no such evidence, such a conclusion is not warranted and cannot be used to justify arrest; and
  6. if the arrest cannot be so justified, then in the absence of any other grounds justifying arrest it will be unlawful.