Doctors and Police Station Interviews
Legal Representation for Doctors in Police Station Interviews
Each year a number of doctors are accused by patients, employers or others, of criminal conduct (that constitutes a criminal offence). The criminal conduct might be by way of an act or an omission to act. In most instances the doctor is entirely innocent and is falsely accused of a crime. Some doctors are interviewed as non-suspects, and a doctor should still be careful to bear in mind that in some cases the evidence they give might be used against them.
In some rare instances where a doctor has committed an offence, they are content to make formal admissions to facts alleged. Either way, where the police are involved the doctor is likely to be interviewed under caution. The interview can thereafter be used by the police and the crown prosecution to bring charges.
A police interview can be a daunting experience that takes place over a number of hours or days. In most instances the doctor will be invited by the police to attend the police station at an appointed time. On rare occasions a doctor might be arrested, particularly where the offence is particularly serious.
Admissions should be made with great care, and should be discussed first with a defence lawyer. On occasions, it may be better for a doctor to go ‘no comment’, or write a statement, rather than answer questions. Legal Aid will be available at police stations but Doctors Defence Service would recommend that where possible a doctor attends the police station with a lawyer who understands medicine, the GMC, and professional matters. For more information about being a witness or suspect in a case, see our detailed article on Police Interviews with Doctors. Call us if you are to be interviewed to obtain advice bespoke to doctors. See also our article Criminal Law Representation for Doctors.
As a police investigation proceeds, they may decide to issue a Pre-Charge Engagement notice, which invites the doctor to disclose documentation in their possession. Responding to this notice needs to be done with care, but can lead to early resolution of concerns, without charge.
We have also written an article for doctors who are being interviewed where they are not a suspect.
In all cases, we would recommend that a doctor has a criminal law solicitor attend police interviews with them. Call Doctors Defence Service for more information on: 0800 10 88 739