Helping Police with their enquiries? Legal advice after arrest

06/03/2012

I stumbled across a website recently, in the name of research, you understand, advising those arrested during protests not to request the Duty Solicitor at the police station as they would be in league with the police. In a recent trail for the Radio 4 drama ‘Occupied’, a police officer can be heard asking a protester why he had the phone number of a solicitor written on his hand if he hadn’t intended to get arrested. These examples got me thinking – what is the common perception regarding “the Duty Brief” and what might be preventing those who have been arrested from exercising their right to legal advice?

What are your options for obtaining confidential, independent and free legal advice at the police station? The Duty Solicitor scheme enables anyone who has been arrested to have access to a solicitor. This advice is completely free, no matter who you are or the reason for your arrest. Hine Solicitors has a number of Duty Solicitors on call every day and night, from Uxbridge to Worcester and most areas in between. We are there to give you advice from the point of arrival at the police station, to interview and beyond.

Your other option is to ask for a solicitor of your choice. This does not have to be a named individual, you can give the name of the firm (and we highly recommend you ask for Hine Solicitors!) You don’t have to have a phone number to hand – as long as the request is made, it is up to the police to do the rest and all being well, you will have a solicitor on the end of the phone before the booking in procedure has concluded. Which ever route you take, either the Duty Scheme or nominating us directly, the advice is free, confidential, and will be given in your best interests.

So what stops someone from exercising their right to legal advice? I commonly find that the detained person doesn’t fully understand their status at the police station. If you have been arrested, it is because you are suspected of having committed a crime. You are not there as a witness or to hep the police establish a clearer picture of what’s gone on. The police have formed a “reasonable suspicion” that you are the person responsible and the next stage for them is to secure evidence by questioning. Your right to free and independent legal advice extends to interviews by appointment and voluntary interviews. Time and again, I see custody records once someone has been charged which note the reason for not requesting a solicitor is because “I haven’t done anything wrong”. Asking for legal representation is not an admission of guilt. Expert legal advice will guide you through the decisions to be made as to whether you answer questions or not, the possible outcomes and making representations directly to the officers involved and custody sergeant. Having a solicitor with you at the police station may make the difference between the matter ending there or going to Court. If you find yourself in the unthinkable position of being under arrest, call on an expert to assist you. You can be confident that Hine Solicitors will act in your best interests to secure the best possible outcome for you.

Jenny McVeigh – Duty Solicitor

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