Tuesday, 26 October 2010

police station lawyer access

The SNP government has gone out of its way never to sound liberal or enlightened on any issue. To project a severe image of society appealing to the authoritarian vote, which is hardly a vote for healthy accountability of the state in a new independent state, is it? (Yes2AV)

For the folks of their country to feel safe, today's must be the worst item on this list. It has taken a human rights court case at British level to enforce access to a lawyer for everyone being held and questioned by the police. The SNP have never campaigned about this, and on the day it happens, do they come on TV beaming with pleasure for human rights here? Not zilch. Macaskill, and remember he is a lawyer, sounded totally displeased and bothered. His first reaction? To increase the hours the police can bang you up for without charge. To make it the same as England, 24 hours, so that we lose the good side of only being lockable up for less time in Scotland, 6 hours.

There are other times, outside formal questioning, when the police in an English police station can intimidate you without a lawyer seeing, and yes we have custody visitors in Scotland so whatever way the police tried to frighten you, if they held you for long enough for the custody visitor to see you then you could tell them about it. So it is not the case that before today the Scottish position was disastrously worse in human rights terms than the English. It was worse in that way, the detention without lawyer for 6 hours, but better in other ways, the lesser detention time and the procurator fiscal check on charging decisions. It was swings and roundabouts, by accidents of history. There was no need for nationalists to feel miffed or defensive. But above all there was no need for them to defend what was bad and to introduce something else bad in cancelling out of today's step forward.

In making it a lot worse and a lot less safe going through daily life for how long the police can bang you up for without charge, the SNP government is inflicting on itself a lot more cause for the court change to arise in court cases, and for folks to make use of it. This totally sits in conflict with their unworkable effort to continue to ignore the court change, and with suppressing the decription of the court change in my consultation response. The only course it fits with logically, is to openly announce the court change and take a position on it.

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