Report No. 69
Judges' Rules (England)
In 1964, at the sitting of the court, the revised edition of the Judges' Rules,1 coming into operation on January 27, 1964, dealing with the admissibility in evidence at the trial of any person of answers and statements made by him to police officers, were announced.
1. Judges' Rules as revised in England, (1964) 1 WLR 152 under Practice Note.
Lord Parker C.J.
Origin.-The origin of the Judges' Rules is probably to be found in a letter dated October 26, 1906, which the then Lord Chief Justice, Lord Alyerstone, wrote to the Chief Constable of Birmingham in answer to a request for advice in consequence of the fact that on the same circuit one judge had censured a member of his force for having cautioned a prisoner, whilst another Judge had censured a constable for having omitted to do so. The first four of the present rules were formulated and approved by the judges of the King's Bench Division in 1912 the remaining five in 1918.
They have been much criticised, inter alia, for alleged lack of clarity and of efficacy for the protection of persons who are questioned by police officers; on the other hand it has been maintained that their application unduly hampers the detection and punishment of crime. A committee of judges has devoted considerable time and attention to producing, after consideration of representative views, a new set of rules which has been approved by a meeting of all the Queen's Bench Judges.
Control by Judges.-The judges control the conduct of trials and the admission of evidence against persons on trial before them they do not control or in any way initiate or supervise police activities or conduct. As stated in paragraph (e) of the introduction to the new rules, it is the law, that answers and statements made are only admissible in evidence if they have been voluntary in the sense that they have not been obtained by fear of prejudice or hope of advantage, exercised or held out by a person in authority, or by oppression.
The new rules, do not purport, any more than the old rules, to envisage or deal with the many varieties of conduct which might render answers and statements involuntary and therefore inadmissible. The rules merely deal with particular aspects of the matter. Other matters such as affording reasonably comfortable conditions, adequate breaks for rest and refreshment, special procedures in the case of persons unfamiliar with the English language or of immature age or feeble understanding, are proper Subjects for administrative directions to the police.
These rules do not affect the principles:
(a) That citizens have a duty to help a police officer to discover and apprehend offenders;
(b) That police officers, otherwise than by arrest, cannot compel any person against his will to come to or remain in any police station;
(c) That every person at any stage of an investigation should be able to communicate and to consult privately with a solicitor. This is so even if he is in custody provided that in such a case no unreasonable delay or hinderance is caused to the processes of investigation or the administration of justice by his doing so;
(d) That when a police officer who is making inquiries of any person about an offence has enough evidence to prefer a charge against that person for the offence, he should without delay cause that person to be charged or informed that he may be prosecuted for the offence;
(e) That it is a fundamental condition of the admissibility in evidence against any person, equally of any oral answer given by that person to a question put by a police officer and of any statement made by that person, that it shall have been voluntary, in the sense that it has not been obtained from him by fear of prejudice or hope of advantage, exercised or held out by a person in authority, or by oppression.
The principle set out in paragraph (e) above is overriding and applicable in all cases. Within that principle the following rules are put forward as a guide to police officers conducting investigations. Non-conformity with these rules may render answers and statements liable to be excluded from evidence in subsequent criminal proceedings.
I. When a police officer is trying to discover whether, or by whom, an offence has been committed he is entitled to question any person, whether suspected or not, from whom he thinks that useful information may be obtained. This is so whether or not the person in question has been taken into custody so long as he has not been charged with the offence or informed that he may be prosecuted for it.
II. As soon as a police officer has evidence which would afford reasonable grounds for suspecting that a person has committed an offence he shall caution that person or cause him to be cautioned before putting to him any questions, or further questions, relating to that offence. The caution shall be in the following terms:
"You are not obliged to say anything unless you wish to do so but what you say may be put into writing and given in evidence."
When after being cautioned, a person is being questioned, or elects to make a statement, a record shall be kept of the time and place at which any such questioning or statement began and ended and of the persons present.
III. (a) Where a person is charged with or informed that he may be prosecuted for an offence he shall be cautioned in the following terms:
"Do you wish to say anything? You are not obliged to say anything unless you wish to do so but whatever you say will be taken down in writing and may be given in evidence."
(b) It is only in exceptional cases that questions relating to the offence should be put to the accused person after he has been charged or informed that he may be prosecuted. Such questions may be put where they are necessary for the purpose of preventing or minimising harm or loss to some other person or to the public or for clearing up an ambiguity in a previous answer or statement. Before any such questions are put the accused should be cautioned in these terms:
"I wish to put some questions to you about the offence with which you have been charged (or about the offence for which you may be prosecuted). You are not obliged to answer any of these questions, but if you do the questions and answers will be taken down in writing and may be given in evidence."
Any question put and answers given relating to the offence must be contemporaneously recorded in full and the record signed by that person or if he refused by the interrogating officer.
(c) When such a person is being questioned, or elects to make a statement, a record shall be kept of the time and place at which any questioning or statement began and ended and of the persons present.
IV. All written statements made after caution shall be taken in the following manner:
(a) If a person says that he wants to make a statement he shall be told that it is intended to make a written record of what he says. He shall always be asked whether he wishes to write down himself what he wants to say; if he says that he cannot write or that he should like someone to write it for him, a police officer may offer to write the statement for him. If he accepts the offer the police officer shall, before starting, ask the person making the statement to sign, or make his mark to, the following:-
"I, wish to make a statement. I want someone to write down what I say. I have been told that I need not say anything unless I wish to do so and that whatever I say may be given in evidence."
(b) Any person writing his own statement shall be allowed to do so without any prompting as distinct from indicating to him what matters are material.
(c) The person making the statement, if he is going to write it himself, shall be asked to write out and sign before writing what he wants to say, the following:
"I make this statement of my own free will. I have been told that I need not say anything unless I wish to do so and that whatever I say be given in evidence."
(d) Whenever a police officer writes the statement, he shall take down the exact words spoken by the person making the statement, without putting any questions other than such as may be needed to make the statement coherent, intelligible and relevant to the material matters; he shall not prompt him.
(e) When the writing of a statement by a police officer is finished the person making it shall be asked to read it and to make any corrections, alterations or additions he wishes. When he has finished reading it he shall be asked to write and sign or make his mark on the following certificate at the end of the statement:
"I have read the above statement and I have been told that I can correct, alter or add anything I wish. This statement is true. I have made it of my own free will."
(f) If the person who has made a statement refuses to read it or to write the above mentioned certificate at the end of it or to sign it, the senior police officer present shall record on the statement itself and in the presence of the person making it, what has happened. If the person making the statement car not read, or refuses to read it, the officer who has taken it down shall read it over to him and ask him whether he would like to correct, alter or add anything and to put his signature or make his mark at the end. The police officer shall then certify on the statement itself what he has done.
V. If at any time after a person has been informed that he may be prosecuted for an offence a police officer wishes to bring to the notice of that person any written statement made by another person who in respect of the same offence has also been charged or informed that he may be prosecuted, he shall hand to that person a true copy of such written statement, but nothing shall be said or done to invite any reply or comment. If that person says that he would like to make a statement in reply, or starts to say something, he shall at once be cautioned or further cautioned as prescribed by rule II1(a).
VI. Persons other than police officers charged with the duty of investigating offences or charging offenders shall, so far as may be practicable, comply with these rules.
(His Lordship added:) "It will be seen that these rules, which apply in England and Wales, and which will come into force on Monday. January. 27, 1964, are designed to secure that only answers and statements which are voluntary are admitted in evidence against their makers and to provide guidance to police officers in the performance of their duties. The admissibility of answers and statements obtained before next Monday will continue to be governed by the old rules.
Copies of these rules are being sent to all judges, recorders, chairman and deputy chairmen of quarter sessions and the clerks of all criminal courts. It is understood that Her Majesty's Secretary of State for Home Affairs is sending copies together with administrative directions, to the police. These rules and the administrative directions will be on sale at the Stationery Office from 11.45 A.M. today."