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  • Namita Pawa

Will I be held longer in a police station if I ask for a solicitor?

The short answer is no – you should not be held any longer if you decide to exercise your right to legal advice.

As we have discussed in a previous article, which can be found here, when you are arrested, you have a number of legal rights and entitlements. One of these is the right to free and independent legal advice. This is a right granted to every individual that is to be interviewed by the police is well known by police officers. That is not to say they don’t occasionally seek to dissuade detained individuals not to have a solicitor. From time to time, we hear reports of a tactic used to suggest that the individual will be held longer in custody if they request a solicitor because they will need to wait for them to arrive.

If the police carry out an efficient and comprehensive investigation there is no reason why they cannot contact the detained person’s lawyer – either assigned to them if they have requested a duty solicitor, or the solicitor chosen by them – with sufficient notice, so that the lawyers arrival coincides with the time the officer anticipates being ready to interview. This would allow the lawyer to obtain disclosure from the police officer regarding the allegation that is to be put to the individual and then sufficient time for consultation with the client in a private room for instructions to be obtained and advice to be given. Thereafter, the interview takes place.

Bad practice by the police is to carry out their investigation without giving any consideration to whether the detained person has exercised their right to legal advice. In those circumstances, they simply show up in custody, ready to proceed to interview, only to discover that a lawyer has been requested. What they should do is to contact the lawyer immediately and make arrangements for a time for them to attend custody so that the interview can proceed.

Unfortunately, what a minority of officers do is instead of contacting the lawyer, they seek to dissuade the detained person that whilst the officer is ready to get on with the interview, if they still wish to have a lawyer present, then they will need to remain in custody to await for their arrival. Had they contacted the solicitor earlier, any delays could have been avoided.

It is very frustrating and distressing for an individual to be held in custody even a moment longer than they have to. One has to always consider the huge advantage by having a solicitor present to challenge the officer on their evidence, to take instructions from the client and to provide crucial advice that can be the difference between whether an individual is charged with an offence or not. Often the mere presence of a solicitor insures that the police act properly at all times, following the rules and code of conduct.

Legal disclaimer: Articles are intended as an introduction to the topic and do not constitute legal advice. The information contained herein is accurate at the date of publication but please note that the law is ever changing and evolving. If you require advice in relation to any matter raised in this article please contact a member of the team.


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