New rules for Police Scotland replace separate concepts of arrest and detention

New rules on the arrest and questioning of suspects that herald the “most significant changes” to police procedures in Scotland for at least a generation come into force today amid concerns from solicitors about their impact.

Jan 25, 2018

New rules on the arrest and questioning of suspects that herald the “most significant changes” to police procedures in Scotland for at least a generation come into force today amid concerns from solicitors about their impact. The new procedures will replace the separate concepts of arrest and detention with a single statutory power of arrest without warrant “where there is reasonable grounds for suspecting a person has committed an offence”. Officers will be allowed to release a suspect with conditions for up to 28 days for further investigation, with the power to re-arrest them. And they will also be required to “take every precaution to ensure a person is not unnecessarily held in police custody” and there are improved protections for under 18s. The changes have been brought in as a result of the recommendations of Lord Carloway’s 2011 review of Scottish criminal law. Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said they represented “some of the most significant changes to police procedures in Scotland for at least a generation”. He said: “The new framework strikes a balance between strengthening the powers available to police, while protecting the rights of the accused.” The changes under Part 1 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2016 will give everyone being held in police custody the right to speak to a solicitor, regardless of whether they are going to be interviewed. It will allow the legal profession a new and much simpler way of intimating grants of Advice and Assistance for police station work, and for claiming payments. Lawyers have raised concerns about the potential impact on workload, with bar associations across Scotland reportedly indicating they will boycott the new police station duty solicitor scheme. The Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB), which is responsible for ensuring suspects who don’t have their own solicitor get access to legal advice, said measures were in place to address the concerns of private solicitors. A spokesperson for SLAB said: “We understand the concerns some solicitors have about managing requests for advice in police stations alongside the other demands of running their businesses. “There is no obligation on solicitors to respond to requests for advice. “Where they can’t, support will be available through the duty scheme from our own employed solicitors and the Public Defence Solicitors’ Office, as well as the 581 private solicitors on the duty rota.”

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