15th august 2018
In an era many years ago when police where not required to provide the defence with all the evidence that the police has accumulated against an accused a formal caution was introduced. Initially the caution was:
I must inform you that you do not have to say or do anything but anything you say or do may be given in evidence.
Do you understand that?
As time passed and with pressure from Law reform Activist the following rider was added:
I must also inform you of the following rights.
You may communicate with or attempt to communicate with a friend or a relative to inform that person of your whereabouts.
You may communicate with or attempt to communicate with a legal practitioner.
Every Police investigator can relate experiences they have had where they have investigated a crime thoroughly (based on the information they know about) interviewed the suspect and when satisfied that they propose to charge the suspect delivered the formal caution before the formal interview. Only to find when they go to court the accused produces evidence that has not been investigated but is left to the courts to rule on, based only on what is before the Court. This strategy by accused persons seems only to occur after the accused retains legal representation and is an anomaly in the Legal system that is a double-edged sword.
It has often been the view of Police that the evidence presented by the defence has been manufactured but at this stage of the Legal process investigators cannot verify or examine the veracity of the claims made, let alone locate evidence that may refute the defence claims.
While dropping new evidence into the hearing at the last minute may be helpful to the accused it is also can be detrimental.
Investigators, who become aware of evidence that goes to the innocence of the accused, would likely not proceed with the prosecution saving the Courts, Police and the accused considerable money and time. The only people to miss out in this scenario are the lawyers. It is for this reason there will be strong opposition to our proposal, not based on fairness before the law but on a much more pecuniary self-interest that permeates the legal profession.
The Community Advocacy Alliance (CAA) believes very strongly that the formal Police caution should be changed to mirror the British model. It is simpler and fairer to the accused and the State (Prosecution).
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.
Britain has long acknowledge that the caution must be in plain English using common phases and words therefore being more likely to be understood by accused persons, the vast majority not being Rhodes scholars.