Importance of assistance ‘needs to be better understood’
A NEW report by JUSTICE Scotland concludes that suspects and solicitors need a better understanding of the importance of legal assistance during police detention.
The report, Legal Assistance in the Police Station, says around 70 per cent of suspects continue to waive the right to assistance, seven years after it was introduced by the Cadder case in the Supreme Court.
And only around 25 per cent of those who request assistance receive it in person, as opposed to over the telephone.
In 17 recommendations, the report calls for “clear and simple information, communicating the rights available to suspects in a way they will understand”, and personal assistance by solicitors as standard.
Lord Eassie, Chair of the Working Party, said the take-up of the right was far lower than it should be, and added: “The nature of the criminal justice process has been changing and cultural shift is required in order fully to realise the importance of this early stage in that process.”
Shelagh McCall, QC, Chair of JUSTICE Scotland, said: “JUSTICE Scotland has long advocated the importance of legal advice during the early investigative stage. This timely report now seeks to ensure that the right is effective in practice.”