Background

Pre-charge engagement, should I contact the police or a solicitor first?

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To engage, or not to engage, that is the question

Pre-charge engagement can be very beneficial for both parties but it is crucial that the accused person seeks legal advice before collaborating with the police. The Hunt & Coombs Crime team can assist in deciding whether pre-charge engagement could help establish your innocence and avoid charges early in proceedings or whether it would be more prudent to remain silent. The decision will depend on the details of your case.

“A ‘no comment’ interview does not preclude you from the opportunity for pre-charge engagement.”

What is Pre-charge engagement?

Pre-charge engagement refers to the voluntary meeting between the police, Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) prosecutors, defence solicitors and you as the suspect during the time between first police interview (PACE) and the decision to charge by CPS.

More than merely agreeing to further interviews, pre-charge engagement requires you to actively aid investigations. You may be able to assist with:

  • Identifying further lines of enquiry;
  • Your comment on proposed lines of enquiry;
  • Providing access to relevant digital material;
  • Giving consent to access of medical records;
  • Suggesting and/or providing contact details for eye witnesses; or
  • Clarifying whether expert or forensic evidence is agreed and if not, whether we as your defence team intend to instruct our own expert and to give timescales for this.

Written and signed records should be made of all discussions whether face to face or written communication. As your solicitor we would manage this process for you.

When will pre-charge engagement be offered to me?

Pre-charge engagement is offered when involved parties agree that it may help an investigation. If you were previously unrepresented the police should have made you aware of your right to legal representation and allowed time for you to seek the necessary advice.

What are the benefits?

The benefits of pre-charge engagement include:

  • An opportunity to maintain your innocence by early identification of other lines of inquiry which may lead to evidence or material that points away from you and towards another suspect;
  • Pre-charge engagement may help avoid a case being charged that would otherwise be stopped much later in proceedings against you;
  • Issues in dispute may be significantly narrowed so that unnecessary inquiries are simply not pursued; and
  • Early resolution of your case would reduce anxiety for you as the suspect and for the complainant.

Do I have to engage?

Pre-charge engagement is entirely voluntary and can be withdrawn at any time and does not form part of any subsequent interview under caution. If after the advice of your solicitor you decide to not engage, your decision should not be held against you later in proceedings.

How can we help?

At Hunt & Coombs Solicitors we will in appropriate cases engage with the police pre-charge in order to secure best outcomes and to minimise stress to our client. Pre-charge engagement work is charged as a private fee starting from £300 + vat for an initial consultation and review of your case. Our crime team is well versed on pre-charge engagement procedures and are here to help you make the right decision based on the facts of your case.

If you have been offered pre-charge engagement it is essential that you are first represented before making contact with the police. Contact our Crime team now on 01733 882800 or via email [email protected] for advice specific to your case and circumstances.


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Hunt & Coombs LLP is a Limited Liability Partnership registered in England and Wales, Registration no. OC320243, VAT no. 120013160. Hunt & Coombs LLP is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority with Registration no. 443035. A list of members is available at 35 Thorpe Road, Peterborough PE3 6AG.
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