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Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2016

Section 32 – Right to have solicitor present

90.This section provides for the right of a person reasonably suspected of committing an offence to have a solicitor present during police interview. It applies to a person who is either in police custody or has voluntarily attended a police station, or other place, for the purpose of being interviewed by a constable.

91.Section 32(3) provides that unless a person has consented to be interviewed without a solicitor present, a constable must not start to interview the person about the alleged offence until a solicitor is present and must not deny the solicitor access to the person at any time during interview.

92.Under subsection (4), a constable may in exceptional circumstances start to interview the person without a solicitor present if satisfied it is necessary to interview the person without delay in the interests of the investigation or prevention of crime, or the apprehension of offenders. This is a high test and may only be authorised by a constable of the rank of sergeant or above who has not been involved in the investigation of the offence about which the person is to be interviewed. If a solicitor becomes available during such time as the police are interviewing a person, the solicitor must be allowed access to that person.

93.For the purpose of this section, a constable is not to be regarded as interviewing a person about an offence merely by asking for the person’s name, address, date of birth, place of birth and nationality. As such, a constable does not have to wait for a solicitor to be present before asking a person for these details.

94.Subsection (7)(a) and (b) provides for a record to be made of the time at which a person consents to be interviewed without a solicitor present and any reason the person gives for waiving the right to have a solicitor present. A person may revoke their consent at any time and in such a case the police must record the time at which a person requests that intimation is sent to a solicitor and the time that intimation is sent (section 6(2)(d) and (e)).

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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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