Statement on the draft Criminal Code of Practice
Sunday, Apr 23, 2017
We have just completed our consultation on the draft Criminal Code of Practice and will now be carefully considering the responses.
We will also now be working closely with solicitors to address any concerns they may have raised to ensure that they keep providing this important service and people detained by the police have access to legal advice.
There is currently no revised Code for the profession to sign up to. Once our review of consultation responses and further discussions with the profession are concluded, we will submit a final Code to Ministers for approval.
The Code will only come into effect when the final version is approved, with any further amendments required by Ministers and on a date decided by them.
Update and Q&A on the consultation on the draft Criminal Code of Practice
The Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2016 gives new rights to people detained by the police. Suspects need access to timely and high quality advice for these rights to be effective. A revised Code will help ensure this by setting out the standards required of solicitors offering to provide police station advice and other criminal work.
We will continue discussions with solicitors to clarify misunderstandings about the terms of the draft Code. For example, the Code will not require solicitors to be on call 24/7. Nor will solicitors always have to attend a police station within one hour - the draft Code actually reflects the Law Society’s own advice about these timescales.
We are working with the profession to design a Code that sets out clear standards for all solicitors doing publicly funded criminal defence work. The Code aims to improve the service provided by the small minority of solicitors who provide a poor service or struggle to meet their obligations.
The final version of the Code should however pose little challenge for most solicitors who we know are committed, professional and do a good and much valued job for their clients.
The Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament decide solicitors’ legal aid fee rates. They are currently being discussed by the Scottish Government and Law Society.