On 12th January 2016 it was reported in the press that Simon Danczuk, the MP for Rochdale, was interviewed by the police about an allegation of rape. This was at the police station, but he wasn’t arrested – how come?
We have looked previously at how a police interview operates, and this is geared towards people who are arrested and then interviewed.
The usual process is that the police are called to the scene of the crime, or otherwise get a report, and go and arrest the person to speak to them about the offence.
However, the police do not need to arrest someone to interview them. Sometimes they will ask someone to attend voluntarily for an interview if there is no need to arrest them.
The test for this is in PACE Code G – see G2.4 and 2.9 in particular. In the case of Mr Danczuk there was no need for the police to arrest him. He is not going to go to ground and will turn up when they ask him to.
In addition, the allegation was well known to Mr Danczuk, and is historical in nature, so there wouldn’t be a need to ‘surprise’ him and interview him quickly.
This has been considered very recently in the context of the Bloody Sunday investigation. The High Court judgment is very readable and sets out the issues very well.
In this case, the police decision not to arrest Mr Danczuk seems to be the correct one, and would be what we would have expected to happen.