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Covid-19 and police stations

Although the lockdown is in place, Elliot Mather’s Criminal Team is still working 24 hours a day providing police station advice to those that have been arrested or been asked to attend a police station for interview. Our primary concern during this time has been to ensure the safety of everybody involved in the interview process which is very challenging as generally, the local police stations cannot facilitate the social distancing rules during the majority of interviews.  

In some instances there are temporary measures being put in place but these are often inadequate and still create in our view an unnecessary risk to all. If you are arrested or asked to attend a police station for interview, it is essential therefore that you seek legal advice which is always provided free of charge.

Not only can we provide you with advice and assistance about the reason for your arrest or attendance but we can also challenge the necessity for an interview, query the Health and Safety protocols being applied and, where an interview is necessary, we can request further adaptations, including the use of remote technology, to protect all parties involved.  

The first issue we will tackle is whether there needs to be an arrest in the first place.  If there is no urgency can the interview it be delayed, can a person be street bailed and interviewed later.  

If there has to be an interview then The Law Society has issued a detailed protocol to ensure everyone retains their right to free, independent and confidential legal advice at a police station even if they themselves are displaying symptoms of Covid19 or have been in contact with somebody who is.  That protocol is being followed by Elliot Mather criminal team.  

By way of illustration of how this is working in practice, in recent days Steve Brint, one of our criminal solicitors, dealt with a client who was showing signs of having Covid-19. Steve contacted the officer and arranged for disclosure to be done remotely and then spoke privately with the client over the telephone.  The police indicated there was still a need for an interview to take place but on attending at the police station, Steve was able to agree with the police that it was not appropriate to put more people at risk by sitting through an interview and a prepared statement was provided instead.  This protects the client should the matter go to court but saves any risk to the parties by sitting in a confined space together.

These are difficult and strange times however those detained at a police station still have the same legal rights as before, the procedures have just changed in some cases. In this digital age there is no reason why matters cannot be dealt with more remotely and as this pandemic continues it is pleasing to see that there is a move towards this.  All police station representatives at Elliot Mather have the necessary electronic equipment to be able to accommodate this and we remain committed to providing a comprehensive legal service to our clients at the police station even if it means providing it by Skype from our lounge or dining room! The most important thing is that we help save lives by reducing the risk of contact with too many people in confined areas, something we all welcome.


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