If you are asked to attend an interview under caution
The council has asked you to attend an Interview Under Caution because it believes that there are grounds to suspect that you might have committed a criminal offence. This does not mean that the council believes that you are guilty and will prosecute you; it means that the evidence the council has obtained so far suggests that you might have committed an offence. The interview is held in order to give you the opportunity to provide an explanation of the events that have occurred, although should evidence emerge during the interview that you have committed an offence, you might be prosecuted.
What happens at the interview?
The purpose of the interview is to establish the facts relating to the suspected offence. The council will send a letter and an explanatory note with all requests to attend Interviews Under Caution. The note details your rights when attending an Interview Under Caution. This page does not replace the information given in the note but gives additional information about the council's investigation process. An Interview Under Caution is part of that investigation process. The interview will be tape recorded and conducted in accordance with the Police & Criminal Evidence Act 1984 & Code of Practice. You may inspect the Act and Code at our offices or at any police station.
What happens after the Interview?
The council will use the facts gained from the Interview, and other associated evidence, to decide what further action to take. The following information is guidance as to the possible outcomes of the investigation.
No further action
If, following the interview, the council is satisfied that no offence has been committed then you will be notified that the investigation has ended.
Where an overpayment of benefit is discovered, even though no offence has been committed, you might have to repay the overpayment. However, separate advice will be given to you if this should happen.
The council might decide to send you a warning letter. The letter emphasises your responsibility to ensure that you provide the council with all the relevant facts and information it requires to calculate the correct amount of benefit.
A Local Authority Caution is similar to a police caution. However it is not recorded on the police national computer database but is recorded by the Department for Work & Pensions, on their national database. A senior officer of the council will administer the Caution in the council offices.
The council will only offer a Local Authority Caution when a person has admitted an offence and the circumstances of the offence reflect that a Caution is an appropriate course of action. You should only admit an offence if you have committed it.
If you accept a Caution, we will ask you to sign a document to confirm you accept the Caution. If you refuse to accept a Caution your case will be referred to the council's Chief Solicitor for prosecution.
As an alternative to prosecution, you might be given the option of accepting an Administrative Penalty. This is calculated as 30% of the benefit overpayment arising from the offence.
If you are offered an Administrative Penalty, then the council will ask you to attend a meeting. At the meeting we will:-
- explain the details of the penalty; and
- ask you if you wish to accept it.
If you are offered an Administrative Penalty you will be sent an explanatory leaflet.
If you refuse to accept an Administrative Penalty your case will be referred to the council's Chief Solicitor for prosecution.
The Council will not offer you an Administrative Penalty if we believe that you are in a position of genuine financial hardship and you will be unable to pay the penalty.
Where we consider the offence to be particularly serious, or if you refuse an alternative sanction, then the council will consider prosecuting you.
This page is intended to provide only outline guidance about why the council is asking you to attend an Interview Under Caution and the possible actions that we might then take. It does not give details of your legal rights which are covered by the Police & Criminal Evidence Act 1984.