Most people have a reflexive urge to talk to the police. They think by doing so, they can either talk themselves out of trouble or get the police on their side. But no matter how confident you are, how well you think you know your rights, nothing will afford you a greater protection than staying quiet.
Your aim should be to shorten any encounter you have with the police, and the quickest way to do that is to say as little as possible. The police are not your friend. They’re not a shoulder to cry on, or a referee willing to step in and help settle disputes. Nor are they interested in hearing your side of the story so they can eliminate you from their enquiries. The police don’t question people to establish innocence, they question to establish guilt. And if you say anything that sounds like an admission they won’t thank you for it and look the other way, in all likelihood they will prosecute you.
It’s not your job to prove your innocence, it’s the police’s job to prove your guilt. Explaining yourself is more likely to implicate than vindicate. This is because the more you say, the more likely you will say something wrong. Especially when you are nervous or under pressure. And if you accidentally contradict yourself don’t expect the police to excuse it as an honest mistake.
Suspicion is a tool of a policeman’s trade. All day they hear people trying to convince them they haven’t done anything wrong, so why would they treat you any differently? They won’t. The more you talk, the more they’ll assume you have something to hide.
It’s not illegal to refuse to speak to the police. You can’t be prosecuted for not answering questions. Nor can you be charged with obstruction, perverting the course of justice or resisting arrest. It is your fundamental right not to talk to the police. They tell you as much when they arrest you.
“You do not have to say anything” those are the first words of the official police caution. It’s good advice, take it.
Don’t believe any cop who tells you that things will be far worse, if you don’t talk:
“Just tell us the truth and it’ll make it a lot easier on you.”
No it won’t.
“If you lie to us then you’re going to be in even more trouble.”
No you won’t.
“All we want is the truth.”
No, all they want is a conviction.
Nobody is required to satisfy a police officer that he or she is not committing an offence. If you are approached in the street and they start asking questions, ask them instead if they have a reasonable suspicion that you’ve broken the law. If the answer is anything other than yes, leave. Despite what most of the public think, the police have no powers, other than arrest, to detain you just to ask questions. And no, they cannot arrest you simply because you refuse to talk.
The police won’t be doing you any favours for confessing on the spot. Nor will the courts. Concessions for early guilty pleas begin after the suspect has been charged. Not before that. Your willingness to tell the cops everything they needed to prosecute you, won’t win you any significant reduction in sentence.
Even if you are arrested and interviewed back at the station don’t answer police questions. Unless that question is, “do you want a solicitor?” Even then, if your solicitor encourages you to “just tell the truth” or that “honesty is the best policy” get rid of your solicitor. Because when it comes to the police, honesty is not the best policy. Silence is.
Keep quiet, say nothing at interview, then once you’ve heard all the questions and got the measure of their investigation, write out a short statement by way of defence. That way, if the matter goes to court, your silence cannot be used against you, because you did provide relevant information to questions asked. Albeit in short written sentences.
Staying silent will greatly reduce your chances of being prosecuted. Over 50% percent of all prosecutions for petty offences are brought off the back of admissions made by those dumb enough to talk to the police.
Be the safe minority.
Don’t talk to the police.