it is now a formal criminal investigation
If you receive a letter about an Interview Under Caution. It is to gather evidence to prosecute you, so do not ignore it. What you do next will be very important. Even if you think your have done nothing wrong, or that you can explain things away, if you do not take a specialist solicitor with you, you can make things far worse. This is because the rules and regulations regarding entitlement to benefits are complex and you may not even be aware that you have committed an offence. Many people who are later prosecuted for benefit fraud, either went on their own to the interview or took somebody with them who was not a specialist in benefit fraud.
You do not have to go to the Interview Under Caution, but if you don’t, it may make it more difficult to explain facts and defend yourself if you are prosecuted and the police could be asked to arrest you. Do not attend an Interview Under Caution on your own or without a specialist solicitor. You have a right to legal advice and getting help is not considered a sign that you are guilty.
An interview under caution is a formal criminal investigation which will be recorded and used against you in court. The interview only takes place after the investigation against you is complete and it is used by the DWP as an opportunity to gain further evidence against you.
You should be given plenty of notice to attend an interview, but do not worry if you do not have enough time as the interview can be rearranged to suit you and your solicitor. Dealing with this is part of the service we offer our clients.
Your solicitor is also entitled to receive ‘prior disclosure’ of the evidence against you before the interview. This means we can sit down with you and privately discuss your case and the evidence before the interview to make sure there are no nasty surprises that your rights and interests are not compromised.
Benefit Legal Services are always happy to discuss your case with you free of charge. If you get a letter asking you attend and interview under caution please contact us immediately.
DWP Interview Under Caution FAQs
Refusing to attend an interview under caution with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) may result in your arrest and have other legal consequences. In certain circumstances, the DWP may have the power to require your attendance, and not cooperating could affect your benefits or lead to further investigation. Seeking legal advice from a benefit fraud solicitor if you have concerns about attending such an interview is essential.
Not all DWP interviews are conducted under caution. The DWP may conduct different types of interviews, such as Compliance, depending on the nature of the inquiry or investigation. Interviews under caution are typically used when they believe they can establish fraud or other criminal activity related to benefit claims.
The DWP will write to you to inform you in advance if an interview will be conducted under caution. They will explain your rights and that anything you say during the interview may be used as evidence. It is crucial to pay attention to any communication you receive from the DWP and seeking specialist legal advice from a benefit fraud solicitor is necessary if you have not already done so.
The duration of a DWP interview under caution can vary depending on various factors, including the complexity of the case and the number of questions asked. Some interviews may be relatively short, while others might last for several hours.
The time it takes to hear back from the DWP after an interview under caution can vary. In some cases, they may conclude the investigation relatively quickly, while in other situations, it might take many months or even years.
No, a DWP compliance interview is not typically conducted under caution. Compliance interviews are used to gather information and evidence when the DWP suspect irregularity with a benefit claim. However, if the interviewer identifies potential fraud or criminal activity, it may switch to an interview under caution. You can read more about a DWP compliance interview here.
Yes, both DWP and police interviews under caution are conducted and regulated under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) however, the police tend to investigate general crime whilst a DWP interview under caution is specific to DWP investigations related to benefit fraud or overpayment. In some serious cases the DWP will ask the police to arrest a suspect and the interview will take place at a local police custody unit.
The outcomes after a DWP interview under caution can vary greatly depending on the individual circumstances, the legal advice given and the evidence presented. Some individuals may find that the case is dropped if no wrongdoing is identified, while others may be reported to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for summons to a criminal court for benefit fraud offences. On occasion a suspect may be offered an Administrative Penalty instead of being prosecuted in court. This is a non-criminal sanction involving the payment of a financial penalty to the DWP.
The decision following an interview under caution will typically be made by a senior officer at the DWP or the relevant authority conducting the investigation. They will consider the evidence presented during the interview and any additional information gathered during the investigation before making a decision. Your solicitor can seek to influence the decision making process by making relevant legal submissions.