In the Media

Move to close criminal advice loophole

PUBLISHED April 25, 2012

Thursday 26 April 2012 by Catherine Baksi

A legal loophole that has allowed police to deny suspects their right to consult a solicitor could be closed by a change in the law.

Home Office officials have agreed to propose an amendment to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) 1984, imposing a duty on police to make it clear to any suspect volunteering to speak to the police at any location, not just at a police station, that they are entitled to free legal advice.

The move follows concerns raised by the Law Society about reports that police officers are increasingly circumventing PACE by interviewing suspects at home, where officers are not required to advise on rights to legal advice, rather than at the police station.

The change will be added to the next tranche of PACE Code amendments tabled before parliament. Society president John Wotton said: 'We are very pleased that the Home Office has taken on board our concerns.' The right of access to legal advice for those suspected of a criminal offence should not depend on where the suspect is interviewed, he said.
l See Comment, p10.