Transform Justice, Fair Trials and the National Appropriate Adult Network have called for an immediate return to in-person advice and assistance for children and vulnerable adults after a survey they carried out late last year ‘shows a disturbing reliance on remote assistance even for those with the greatest need’.
The report, Not remotely fair?, is based on the responses of 315 'appropriate adults' operating across the 43 police force areas.
In 4,700 police station interviews attended by the respondents between 1 September and 17 November, legal assistance during interview was provided remotely to children and vulnerable adults in 51% of cases.
A third of appropriate adults said legal assistance was provided remotely in at least three-quarters of the cases they attended. Half of respondents said remote assistance was used more often than not. One in six respondents said legal assistance was given in person for the cases they attended.
Highlighting geographical variations, appropriate adults in Cambridgeshire estimated that nearly all (92%) of interviews were conducted via audio only, compared to 11% in Norfolk.
Respondents said that when advice was given remotely, suspects were less likely to ask questions when they did not understand what was happening or to stop the interview to ask their solicitor for advice.
One respondent said the solicitor was concerned they could not read the reactions of the suspect and asked the appropriate adult to sit in on the legal consultation. In an audio-only case, a respondent said a detainee with ADHD struggled, terminated the interview and refused a further phone consult.
For full article https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/justice-campaigners-worried-about-disturbing-reliance-on-remote-assistance/5107591.article?utm_source=gazette_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Whiplash+rules+and+tariffs+revealed+%7c+Demoralised+judges+%7c+Secret+Magistrate_02%2f26%2f2021