Interpreter needed for arrest ?


Kit Reviewer

Reuters said:
Police and Interpol hunt pregnant woman's killer

LONDON (Reuters) - Police and Interpol have begun a hunt for a Portuguese man after a pregnant 23-year-old woman was found murdered at her home in Wiltshire.

Police were also liaising with Portuguese authorities over the murder of Hayley Jane Richards.

"We are very keen to trace and interview Hugo Quintas," Superintendent Peter Russ of Wiltshire Police said.

Media said Richards was killed a week after she filed a complaint that Quintas, her former boyfriend, had assaulted her. Richards' brother Paul was quoted in newspapers as saying the man had not been arrested at the time because the police needed an interpreter.

"A week later we find ourselves devastated with the loss of Hayley," he said.

The original investigation of assault has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
OK it was a grieving relative that said the police had not arrested the man due to a lack of interpreter, so he may well have misunderstood something.
But if his statement is accurate is it normal procedure ?
The Police & Criminal Evidence Act makes it mandatory for non-English speakers to have a non-police interpreter (although the police will facilitate the provision of the interpreter) in interview. Any interview conducted contrary to this will invoke a s.78 PACE challenge (exclusion of evidence through contravention of PACE).

So, they would have arrested him and then the Custody Sergeant would probably have no choice but to bail him to a time when an interpreter was available. If there was evidence that he would harm someone then he could have been kept in custody, but his "PACE clock" would be ticking (i.e. the maximum time he could be kept in custody before he had to be released anyway). There might be other factors we aren't aware of from the story that led to him being released, but most forces now have pretty draconian/ interventionist policies on domestics nowadays.

In small rural and semi-rural police areas I can imagine that it might be difficult to summon a Portugese speaker quickly. In urban areas it's less difficult, but can still take a long time.

PACE is broken. It was designed for an era before Human Rights legislation (which has been bolted onto it rather clumsily) and needs a Royal Commission to put it right again, and put public safety and common sense, rather than the the rights of suspects, first.

A bit of an update which casts some light on your question.

Just saw a DCC from Wiltshire do a press conference on the BBC. He's said that there will already been an Independent Police Complaints Commision investigation into this, ongoing, matter. He's also said that officers who could have arrested earlier didn't.

That's more or less an admission that there's been a mistake made, and this seems more of an error than a hasty non-arrest situation because of an interpreter.

Doesn't change my mind one jot about PACE, though.

The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.

The PACE codes of practice are holy writ for criminal investigators in the UK and cover everything from treatment of persons in custody, interviewing, police bail, identification, stopping and searches of person and premises and just about everything else you can think of.

Almosy any breach of PACE can lead to the s.78 challenge in court. For example, not giving a prisoner his mandatory meal before an interview could lead to a complaint of oppression or duress and make any evidence gathered inadmissable.

You can imagine the fun criminal defence lawyers have with it.

On the other hand pre-PACE the West Midlands serious crimes squad kept lawyers in business for years.
I suppose it would have been possible to find interpreter, have him at the nick and then go and arrest Chummy. Maybe even take interpreter with them to be there from the off. Needed to tell the bloke to shut up in the car if he started to rabbit on about the 'offence'
Fully realise this is Monday morning quarterbacking but it does seem very basic to me.
^ I think the problem here is not arresting the bloke in the first place.

Re. West Midlands SCS allegedly asphyxiating suspects in the early 80's well, yes, you have a point. OTOH reforming PACE wouldn't really harken back to those days...not least because all prisoner handling areas in most nicks are now fully CCTV'd!

Has anyone actually stated that this suspect speak no english at all, or is it just presumed he doesn't because he's Portugese born?
May have answered my own question:

Peter Vaughan, the Assistant Chief Constable of Wiltshire Police, said:

.... "that officers on an unrelated inquiry had spoken to Quintas, who is believed to have worked at the local Bowyers pork factory, twice in the five days between the assault and the murder while their colleagues were obstensibly searching for him. He said that their inquiries had not connected him to anything "significant"
No need for an interpreter then? Nor at his place of work? :roll:

Link to whole Times article
As Vegetius states,non English speaking crims, sorry suspects must have an interpreter present when interviewed. Having nicked more than my fair share of no speeka/ que?/or generally looking both moronic and guilty non-participants in HMs language course (available from birth in this country), I've had no probs getting them hauled in to custody. If they do start kicking off, a stentorian request for a bit of hush always works wonders- yet to meet anyone who doesn't understand " shut up cnut".
Ala Wilts OB, getting shades of the Met management who re the Stephen Lawrence murder, were "unaware" that you could nick a suspect on suspicion.
Bet they've got degrees in sociology tho, and failed O level common sense.
Still it's only a dead girl, tomorrows chip wrappings :(
From the BBC

Police investigating an assault on a Trowbridge woman five days before her murder have admitted they missed a chance to arrest the prime suspect.

Hayley Richards, 23, who was three months pregnant, reported she had been attacked by Portuguese boyfriend Hugo Quintas on 5 June.

Less than a week later, Ms Richards was found with her throat cut and and Mr Quintas had fled to Portugal.

Police said they are still looking for the murder weapon.

In all fairness to poor old Wiltshire Police, if he had been arrested it's entirely likely that at most he'd have been charged with causing Actual Bodily Harm, not a particulalry serious offence and one highly unlikely to result in a custodial sentence. Following charge he would almost certainly have been bailed to the next court date and would have had every opportunity to murder her anyway. If he's as nutty and evil as he sounds then I doubt that he would have paid any attention to whatever bail Conditions the Custody Sergeant might have imposed. Of course he might have been frightened off by being arrested, who can say? :?

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