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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71146
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I was wondering what my obligations are to answer the questions

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Hi, I was wondering what my obligations are to answer the questions of a policeman over the phone. I am the director of a company that provides mail forwarding services. A policeman called from the Metropolitan Police saying that he has questions concerning one of our clients. Am I required to answer him without any written request, information on what it is all about? Many thanks in advance.
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
I presume you are being treated as a witness?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I assume so. I was not in the office when he called. He said nothing, just that he has questions regarding one of our companies and requested a call back from me.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Serious Organised Crime Command, New Scotland Yard

If you are a witness then you don't have to provide anything at all. Nobody can force a witness to assist in the Uk.
However, they do have the power to seize information from your office and search without consent so it might be better to co-operate. They may still seize items but at least they would conduct their enquiries more sensitively.
In some instances you can provide a telephone statement. My own personal preference would be to make a statement face to face. Apart from anything else you have no proof you are talking to an officer over the phone.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Jo, thank you a couple of questions:

"Apart from anything else you have no proof you are talking to an officer over the phone." - for this reason he suggested for me to call back through the central switchboard, so that I can make sure I am talking to the police. Don`t you think that is safe enough?

Do I have the right to demand a written request? Say at least an e-mail: pls provide me so and so information about so and so company. And I would be more than happy to comply, again in writing.

In either case (telephone, personal meeting, written request), does he need to give me a reason for the enquiry? Or no, he has the right just to say I want info about this company and that is all.

(Face to face statement - that is a problem. I am away on business for a couple of months, some 15 hours plane ride from London, so would like to avoid that.)

A switch board would be safe enough.
You don't have the right to demand a request in writing but they may comply.
He doesn't have to tell you anything at all. Probably he will not as there is a risk that some people would go and tell the person in question giving that person an opportunity to conceal evidence.
Jo C. and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Jo, thank you very much. I think I am all set.

No problem.
It's not really anything for you to worry about. You are not being investigated.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I know. I just don`t really like this giving information over the phone business. I have dealt with authorities elsewhere, worldwide, and they usually come with a proper written request.

It can be intimidating to be put on the spot over the phone, and my first language is not English, either.

Anyway, it should be all right.

Yes, if they are serious crime officers they will just come and seize anything they want so you may as well co operate.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Yes, that is the plan. We have nothing to hide.

Thank you again, great service!

No problem. All the best.