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Police Powers: Suspects Rights

  • Where a police constable has reasonable grounds for suspecting that a person has committed or is committing an offence that person may be required to provide their name, address, date of birth, place of birth and nationality. It is an offence not to provide this information whether or not any offence was originally being committed. The officer can require that person to remain with him while information is verified. A person who does not remain in such circumstances commits a criminal offence.
  • Where a constable has reasonable grounds for suspecting a person has committed or is committing an offence punishable by imprisonment the Constable may detain the person to facilitate the carrying out of investigations into the offence and as to whether criminal proceedings should be instigated. The detention period can last up to 12 hours and can be extended to up to 24 hours.
  • A person so detained is under no obligation to answer any questions other than to provide their name, address, date of birth place of birth and nationality.
  • A detained person will be advised that they need not answer any questions but that any answers made will be noted, most likely audio and video recorded and will be used in evidence against them.
  • To reiterate, there is no obligation on a suspect to answer questions beyond providing their name, address, date of birth, place of birth and nationality.
  • A person suspected of any offence and detained or attending voluntarily at a police office has the right to have a private consultation with a solicitor before any questioning begins and at any other time during such questioning.
  • Road traffic matters: Where the driver of a vehicle is alleged to be guilty of an offence the person keeping that vehicle or any other person so required shall give such information as to the identity of the driver as may be required by the police. It is an offence to fail to comply unless that person shows that he did not know and could not with reason diligence have ascertained who the driver of the vehicle was.
  • The general powers of police regarding the provision of information applies in road traffic cases as they do to all other circumstances.
  • Separately a person driving a mechanically propelled vehicle on a road must stop the vehicle on being required to do so by a constable in uniform. Failure to comply is an offence.
  • In certain circumstances a police officer can require the production of driving licences or other documents.
  • The police have the power to require drivers in certain circumstances to provide a specimen of breath for a preliminary breath test. Failure to comply without reasonable excuse is an offence. Failure to pass such a breath test will result in arrest and a requirement to provide evidential specimens of breath for analysis at a police station. Failure to provide an evidential specimen of breath without reasonable excuse is an offence.

Legal Aid

The Scottish Legal Aid Board provides funding for legal advice and assistance in relation to a wide range of criminal and civil matters. Preliminary advice and assistance is means tested. Those in receipt of Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance or Employment Support Allowance automatically qualify for legal aid providing they have disposable capital of less than £1716.

Those with a disposable income below £106 per week qualify for legal advice and assistance providing their disposable capital is below £1716. Subject to capital qualification legal advice and assistance remains available, subject to payment of a contribution up to a disposable income level of £245 per week. Disposable income is taken as all income received by an applicant and their spouse or partner within the qualifying period of 7 days before the date of an application. Certain benefits, though not passport benefits allowing an applicant to automatically qualify for legal advice and assistance, are not counted as income. Allowances are deducted from income received in relation to spouse, partner or dependent children. Similar allowances apply in relation to capital qualification for advice and assistance.

CRIMINAL LEGAL AID: Criminal legal aid is available to those who can establish that they cannot meet the costs of defending or representing themselves in a criminal case without undue hardship being caused to themselves or their dependents.

When applying for legal advice and assistance or legal aid you will be required to produce confirmation of your income including benefits and a recent bank statement for any accounts held. These provisions are complicated and we will help you with them.

CIVIL LEGALAID: An application for Civil Legal Aid to fund in whole or in part representation in court proceedings is made to the Scottish Legal Aid Board. An application will be granted, subject to financial eligibility where the applicant has a probable cause of action (a good enough case) and it is seen as reasonable to make public funding available. The lower disposable income limit is £3521 per annum and at or below that level no contribution is payable from income towards legal costs. The upper disposable income limit is £26,239 per annum and above that a person is ineligible for legal aid on income. Allowances are made from income for spouses, partners and dependents. The lower capital eligibility limit is £7,853 and the upper capital eligibility limits is £13,017. The same provisions apply. There are no allowances from capital for spouses, partners and dependents.

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