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Society issues interview guidance to criminal practitioners

21 June 2010

The Law Society of Scotland has written to criminal practitioners on the subject of police station interviews, following the Society's comments that the Lord Advocate's interim guidelines conflict with the solicitors' code of conduct.

The letter which can be accessed here, is signed by Legal Aid Convener Oliver Adair. It includes the advice:

"If the police contact the solicitor of choice on the instructions of the client, the question of attendance is a matter for the solicitor. Solicitors of choice may wish to consider providing advice by telephone, in the event that they are unable to attend the police station in person.

"Where the solicitor of choice is not available, the guidance contemplates the senior investigating officer requesting the attendance at the police station of a PDSO employee or a member of the local duty scheme. Any such attendance, not requested by the solicitor of choice, may create grounds for complaint under the code.

"The guidance note to article 1 of the code clearly states: 'Instructions must come directly from the person detained and not by virtue of the police arranging for a specific solicitor to be contacted who is unknown to and has not been requested by the accused.'

"The Society has requested an urgent meeting with the Lord Advocate and Crown Office, to address the incompatibility of the interim guidelines with the Code of Conduct for Criminal Work, and will update members with the outcome of these discussions in due course."

Further advice is available from the Society' legal aid co-ordinator or one of the criminal legal aid negotiating team.

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