3rd September 2019

The Duty Solicitor Call Centre (“DSCC”) is used by police to contact detainee’s solicitors. Every person arrested and detained at the police station is entitled to free and independent legal advice either by their own solicitor or a duty solicitor. All requests have to go through the call centre who then contact the solicitor of choice. This is a 24 hour service enabling people to get help at a time of great need. The role of a solicitor at the police station is to protect and advance the rights of the detained person. This includes making sure that the police do their job in accordance with the law and includes, amongst many other things, making sure the person is not detained for longer than they should be, ensuring that the person has been given food, drinks, a blanket and had someone notified of their arrest, making sure that the vulnerable (young people or those with physical or mental health difficulties) are dealt with appropriately and have the additional support that they need.

If you are denied a solicitor you are denied your most fundamental right whilst detained.

Last week the DSCC went into meltdown for several days after computer maintenance issues. There were stories of people being detained for many hours without the police being able to contact the call centre or even being interviewed by police without a solicitor. Being detained at a police station is a distressing experience in itself but to be detained for hours longer than necessary could be terrifying. There is also a risk of a miscarriage of justice where someone has been interviewed without a solicitor and there may be cases where a legal argument is made to exclude the interview due to the denial of the right to a solicitor. The true effect of this failure in the system may not be known for some time.

If you are arrested or interviewed as a voluntary attender it is our strong advice that you exercise your right to have a solicitor there to help you. If you require representation at the police station please contact our experienced criminal defence team on 0191 565 3112 or if outside hours on 07743 806988.

If you were impacted by the DSCC problems last week you may also have grounds to pursue a claim for compensation. If you have been affected by the incident please contact our solicitors Andrew Freckleton and Richard Hardy on 0191 565 3112 or email advice@benhoarebell.co.uk.