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Scots evidence law "too restrictive", police chief warns

29 June 2010

A senior police officer has called for a national debate in Scotland on evidence requirements especially in sexual offence cases, claiming that the scales are currently stacked against law enforcement.

Assistant Chief Constable George Hamilton is reported in the Scotsman today as suggesting that the requirement for corroboration "may need to be revisited" in rape and sexual offence cases, particularly where the main issue is whether there was consent.

Mr Hamilton also believes that the combination of tight corroboration rules and the current six-hour maximum detention period without a suspect being charged, to which is now beiong added a right to solicitor access under guidelines issued by the Lord Advocate ahead of the Peter Cadder appeal decision, the system is becoming very restrictive. He would like to see further discussion of whether and how far to extend the six hour period, whether to 24 hours as in England or some lesser time.

He commented: "We need a balanced system that upholds human rights, but also realises justice needs to be seen to be done."

The decision in the Cadder appeal, which concerns the right to have a solicitor present during police questioning under detention, is due on 20 October.

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