The pandemic has resulted in changes being implemented in the criminal justice system. One of these changes is the implementation of remote attendances (video or audio attendance) at the police station. Prior to the pandemic, solicitors and legal representatives could provide legal advice to their client over the phone before attending the police station in person for the interview.
The detention and questioning of suspects by police officers is governed by Code C of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1986 (PACE). The National Police Chief Council, the Crown Prosecution Service, the Law Society, the Criminal Law Solicitors’ Association and the London Criminal Courts Solicitors’ Association came together in 2020 to produce a protocol (that has been regularly reviewed and updated) to assist investigators and prosecutors in deciding whether a suspect should be interviewed as part of a police investigation during the COVID-19 pandemic. The latest version of the protocol (version 3) was published in May 2021 and replaces all earlier versions of the protocol.
Previous versions of the protocol provided for remote attendances by solicitors and legal representatives for any suspect in cases where the custody officer deemed that an interview was required. The current amendments now mean that remote attendances are no longer an option in cases where the suspect is under 18 years of age or where the suspect is a vulnerable adult. This means that your solicitor or legal representative must attend the police station in person if you are under 18 years of age or you are a vulnerable adult. If you are an adult with no vulnerabilities, your solicitor or legal representative can attend the interview remotely as long as you have been informed of this and you consent to it. If you do not consent, your solicitor or legal representative must attend the police station in person. However, if you are vulnerable and have tested positive for COVID-19 or it is believed that you have COVID-19, your lawyer may attend the interview remotely.
If your solicitor or legal representative attends the police station remotely, you should receive legal advice over the phone and your interview should be conducted by video link. However, it may not always be possible for an interview to be conducted by video link and in such cases, the interview can be conducted with the solicitor or legal representative present on the phone, however, this can only happen if you consent to this course of action.
If your solicitor or legal representative attends the police station in person, they should be provided with protective personal equipment (PPE).
At TV Edwards Solicitors our lawyers will provide you with a first class service whether we attend the police station in person or remotely.