NQ Law Student. It's no different to any other police interview. Your rights are exactly the same and the process is no different - just that you've walked into the police station rather than being dragged kicking and screaming through the 'guest entrance'.
Depending on what evidence they already have, they may or may not arrest you beforehand - not to be confused with cautioning you, which they have to do, in addition to outlining the allegation(s). Essentially it sums up your fundamental rights, give or take a few, as follows (save for the odd word or two; 'anything' instead of 'something', for example):
'You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defence if you fail to mention, when questioned, something you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence.'
As it's your first time I'll take you through what it means in a bit more detail:
1) 'You do not have to say anything...' - This, contrary to popular belief, is not a 'right to silence' necessarily, but means you have the right not to say anything that will incriminate you - in other words, if they ask you 'did you hit him?', you have the right not to say 'yes, of course I did officer'.
2) 'but it may harm your defence if you fail to mention, when questioned, something you later rely on in court'. This is the 'long part that seems scary but isn't really'. What it means is that if you have a valid defence then you should explain that defence at the 'earliest reasonable opportunity' (this is taken to mean during the police interview). For example, let's take assault again. If you got to court and said 'well, yes, Your Honour...I did hit him, but I only did it because he was in the process of hitting me repeatedly' (a perfectly valid defence), but had not mentioned that when interviewed by the police (possibly wasting time and money), the judge/
jury (etc) would be justified in treating that defence with a level of scepticism - thus causing harm to your otherwise perfectly valid defence.
3) 'Anything you do say may be given in evidence'. This doesn't really need any explanation - it is what it is in that what you do say could be used as evidence against you.
What they don't mention in the caution is other rights you have, including the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty and, more importantly perhaps, the right to legal advice through a solicitor. You can either take one with you to the interview or you can inform the police that you would like a solicitor.
You may hear things such as 'well, if you've done nothing wrong, why do you need a solicitor?' In short, completely disregard this! I can't state that strongly enough. The fact you ask for a solicitor can not be used against you and does not indicate, insinuate or otherwise admit guilt, liability, culpability or questionable fashion sense (ok, that latter part MAY be true in my case, but still...). You could reply to such a question, for example, as 'I've never been in trouble with the police or been interview by the police and I don't know the process so I want a solicitor to help ensure everything is done properly' - or something to that effect.
A solicitor will not only ensure that you can formulate a structured defence right from the start but also ensure that your rights are protected during the process and I recommend you have one, especially considering it's your first time. No matter how informal or friendly the police may seem, it's not their job to defend you, despite any obligation to do their due diligence - that's what a solicitor is there for 🙂
After interview it's hard to say what exactly will happen. It all depends on the interview and the evidence presented to you or any additional investigation they have to do. It may involve the seizure of electronics, equally it may not; again it depends.
Above all though, don't panic. It's up to them to find proof and if what you say above is true, there's very little chance of that as far as I can see :-)
25th March 2022