John Halewood-Dodd column

John Halewood Dodd
John Halewood Dodd

I begin by accepting that I have a vested interest here, but I would argue that’s the same for anyone who finds themselves the subject of a police investigation, in that they should avail themselves of free legal advice.

I wrote last year about crime detection rates being manipulated and came in for a bit of flak for doing so. Then low and behold it’s acknowledged that “officers routinely fiddle the figures.”

The reason being that there is severe pressure on the police to meet unrealistic detection targets.

I feel that, both locally and nationally, this has had an effect on how the police are dealing with interviews at the police station.

It seems that there is a concerted effort to dissuade people from having solicitors.

We now have things called ‘Voluntary Attendances’, or ‘V.A.’s’, where there is no arrest and the interview takes place at a time convenient to all.

Sounds preferable to being arrested and carted off to the nick in the back of a Black Maria.

The only problem is that this less formal way of dealing with cases leads to people declining their right to free legal advice.

Replies such as “I didn’t want to bother anyone”, or “I didn’t think it was serious” are commonplace when it is pointed out that they have irreparably damaged their position.

I would suggest that the right to free legal advice at the police station is there for good reason.

Even with cutbacks everywhere else it is accepted that this is one area that should remain untouched.

As such, if it is a legal right, and won’t cost a penny, why not have the benefit of an expert to ensure that your situation is not made worse?