As specialist solicitors dealing with sexual offences we have experienced a significant increase in the number of weekly enquiries from concerned parents who have experienced the arrest, or face the prospect of arranging a voluntary interview for their child, in a serious police investigation into sexual allegations.
The circumstances outlined to us are often very similar; the complainant and the accused meet each other at some social event, usually alcohol has been consumed, and then some incident occurs which gives rise to the allegations, both parties have a very different account as to what has happened.
Once a formal allegation has been made the police will proceed to interview your child, you may, if they are under 17 be asked to participate in the interview as an appropriate adult . On obtaining your child’s account the police are likely to release your child whilst a, no doubt, lengthy investigation continues.
This “up in the air” approach with no time scales being applied, no sense of control of process, and no ability to feel proactive can cause enormous stress for families. If your child is arrested for any sexual offence, even if the matter does not proceed to a charge, it can have extremely serious repercussions across your child’s life; travel, work prospects, and even their future family lives can all be affected.
What should I do?
- Get advice from expert sexual offences solicitors as soon as you can.You may know about the request for interview early enough to arrange the attendance of your chosen solicitor. You may be able to negotiate a voluntary interview rather than have the police arrest your child. If you do not have the necessary time to be able to do this prior to interview you can still contact us after the initial interview has taken place, and we will provide advice on how best to proceed proactively post interview.
- If you attended the interview as an appropriate adult you can download a Guide For Appropriate Adults published by the Home Office from the gov.uk web site.
- Make notes on what your son/daughter was asked and how they responded; the questions that are asked are sometimes just as important as the answers, as this provides an insight into the case and exactly what is being alleged.
- You may be told that you can get a copy of the tape of interview but do not assume that you can get this after the interview, usually this is not released unless a decision is made to charge. Remember you have no right to obtain a copy of the complainants statement at this stage.
- Make a note of the solicitor or accredited representative who attends and their contact details and, if you can, get the details of the Officer in charge of the case (OIC).
- Be aware that after the interview your child will need a lot of support, allegations can cause all sorts of repercussions with peers, with college placements, particularly for those contemplating a professional career. Be aware social media can cause serious ongoing problems that can cause emotional distress and, more importantly, can affect the investigation. Trial by peers through Social Media can be a real risk especially if your child is at college or school where there are social media groups. Tweets, Instagram, Texts and Snapchat are part of everyday life now. Allegations can escalate very quickly and the issues surrounding social media can be very complex. Remind your child not to post about what has happened, and be aware that any attempt to contact or influence those involved in the investigation, even through third parties can be viewed as a serious offence. If there is any evidence that your child is receiving threatening or harassing messages, or indeed any messages about the investigation they should not reply but should show the texts to an appropriate adult immediately.
Remember that post interview you can just sit back and wait for the police to investigate the matter, and for CPS to reach a charging decision. Others to whom we have spoken often wish to be more proactive and not reactive. If you want to be proactive give us a call on 020 7936 6329.