I am pleased to publish a protocol for solicitors advising suspects at police stations during the COVID-19 crisis. It has been drafted by Keir Monteith QC, Lucie Wibberley, Patrick Roche and Vicky Meads.
The starting point is  no one should put themselves at risk…. the opening paragraph states:
  1. We need to act now to protect the lives of solicitors who are called to a police station and the lives of suspects who require representation. In short, solicitors should not be required to attend police stations and suspects should only be detained and interviewed in the most serious of cases.

Thereafter the protocol provides advice and assistance on the difficult decisions that are now having to be made including: whether to attend the police station, should there be an interview; if so should a prepared statement be served immediately or post event. Where possible, the authors have made reference to helpful codes of practice, a Home Officer Circular and case law.

The bigger picture is that there needs to be a joined up Government approach that provides consistency from arrest to final disposal – a proper triaging of cases.


Comments and observations are encouraged.
The protocol can be found by clicking on the link here.
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2 Replies

  1. FWIW from a lay person…

    I do understand the protocol was written with a particular, perfectly valid, purpose in mind. I was however unclear what (if any) view had been reached about the possible consequences of the policy it calls for:

    ‘9. Arrest, detention and interview should, during the period of lock down, be restricted to the most serious of alleged crimes.’

    That seems at first blush to be licence for a range of less serious crime. After all, without arrest, in many cases the only possible basis for follow-up i.d.c. would seem to be a note that the suspect was “Mickey Mouse of Disneyland”.

    And what would be “most serious” crime? Forgive me if it is a “term of art” in the criminal profession. I only know of “serious offences” in the 2007 Act which would seem a very narrow class. It would be nice to know where it would leave e.g. shoplifting (already rarely attended), burglary (similarly already down the list of priorities), street robbery, looting, etc.

    You might fairly say the consequences are issues for others. But I suggest you might get more sympathy for your concerns if you recognise those of others.

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