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Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2016

Police liberation
Section 25 – Liberation by police

67.Section 25(1) and (2) provide that where a person is in custody having been charged with an offence, the police may: release that person on an undertaking under section 26, release the person without an undertaking or refuse to release. (Note the provisions do not apply where a person is in custody by virtue of a warrant granted under section 37(1)). It is also relevant to note that under section 50 a constable must take every precaution to ensure that a person is not unreasonably or unnecessarily held in police custody.

68.Section 25(3) provides that where a person is in police custody on a warrant as contained within sub-section (1)(b), the person will not be allowed to be released without an undertaking as provided for in sub-section (2)(b).

69.Section 25(4) provides that a constable will not be liable to any claim because of a refusal to release a person from custody under subsection (2)(c).

Section 26 – Release on undertaking

70.Again, in considering whether to release a person on an undertaking the police will be mindful of their obligations under section 50 of the Act (duty not to detain unnecessarily). Section 26(1) provides for a person to be released from police custody on an undertaking given under section 25(2)(a) only if they sign that undertaking.

71.Section 26(2) specifies the terms of an undertaking and section 26(3) provides for the conditions and the further conditions which may be imposed. With regard to those further conditions, these are illustrated by subsection (4), with paragraph (a) setting out the type of further conditions that only a constable of the rank of inspector or above may impose. Any other condition may be imposed by a constable of the rank of sergeant or above.

72.Section 26(6) provides that the requirement imposed by an undertaking to attend at court and comply with conditions are to be taken to be liberation conditions for the purposes of schedule 1 on breach of liberation conditions. This means that a breach of any condition may be penalised by a fine or a prison sentence as outlined in schedule 1 and a breach which would be an offence were the person not subject to liberation conditions may be taken into account in sentencing for that offence.

Section 27 – Modification of undertaking

73.Section 27(1) enables the procurator fiscal by notice (effected as set out in section 27(3)) to modify an undertaking given under section 25(2)(a), either by changing the time or place of the court hearing or removing or altering a condition in the undertaking. The manner of citation may be effected, for example, by delivering the notice personally or leaving it at the person’s home.

Section 28 – Rescission of undertaking

74.Section 28(1) enables the procurator fiscal to rescind an undertaking under section 25(2)(a) regardless of whether the person who gave it is to be prosecuted.

75.Section 28(2) clarifies that the rescission takes effect at the end of the day the notice is sent to the person who gave the undertaking.

76.Section 28(3) provides that notice under subsection (1) must be effected in a manner by which citation may be effected under section 141 of the 1995 Act.

77.Section 28(4) provides a constable with a power of arrest if the constable has reasonable grounds for believing that the person is likely to fail to comply with the terms of an undertaking as contained within section 25(2)(a).

78.Section 28(5) provides that, when a person is arrested under subsection (4) or is arrested otherwise than in accordance with the undertaking, as in subsection (6), the undertaking is rescinded and the person is deemed to be in custody, as if charged with the original offence for which an undertaking was given.

79.Section 28(7) provides that reference contained within subsections (4) and (6)(b) regarding the terms of the undertaking also refer to any undertaking modified by notice made under section 27(1) or by a sheriff under section 30(3)(b).

Section 29– Expiry of Undertaking

80.Section 29(1) provides that an undertaking under section 25(2)(a) is deemed to have expired in two circumstances: either at the end of the day when the person was required to have appeared at court, or at the end of the day when a person appears at court having been arrested on a warrant for failing to appear as required by the terms of the undertaking.

81.Section 29(2) has the effect that; an undertaking expires if a person has been arrested under a warrant and appears in court because they have not attended court as required, then the undertaking expires at the end of the day of that court appearance.

82.Section 29(3) explains that the references in subsection (1)(a) and (2)(a) to the terms of the undertaking include those modified by the procurator fiscal under section 27(1)

Section 30 – Review of undertaking

83.Section 30(1) enables a person subject to an undertaking to apply to the sheriff for review.

84.Section 30(2) provides that the sheriff must provide the procurator fiscal with an opportunity to make representations with regard to the review. Section 30(3) provides that the sheriff may either remove a condition or impose any alternative condition that the sheriff considers to be necessary and proportionate.

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Text created by the Scottish Government to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes were introduced in 1999 and accompany all Acts of the Scottish Parliament except those which result from Budget Bills.


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