Code of conduct will provide balance, says Faculty

10 Aug

Introducing a robust code of practice during the questioning of and when recording the questioning of suspects will balance their interests with the duty to investigate crime, says the Faculty of Advocates.

Faculty was responding to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service consultation process on the Lord Advocate’s draft Code of Practice on the questioning and recording of questioning of persons suspected or accused of committing offences.

Faculty welcomes the approach adopted in this Code which will assist in fostering and supporting diversity in all areas of Scottish society including within the criminal justice sector.

“We have noted observations by contributors to this exercise that suspects accused of sexual offences are often queried as to their sexuality where such a query has no apparent relevance to the crime being investigated. It is hoped and expected that the incorporation of this approach will prevent such a line of questions being put in future interviews.”

While Faculty welcomed the online availability of the Code, it stressed the need for access to it to also be provided at locations where suspects were questioned. It also raised concerns around the practice of questioning a person designed to establish whether there were reasonable grounds to suspect that person of having committed a crime. “This is especially so where the grounds come to exist as a result of that person's answers. This often transgresses the right of a person to remain silent.”

“Faculty proposes that a different form of caution should be introduced using plain language and one fact per statement.”

Faculty also took the opportunity in its response to request of the Scottish Government and other criminal justice partners that specific consideration be taken when finalising the Code of Practice of how best to procure real and effective support for vulnerable people suspected of being involved in criminality.

The Faculty’s full response can be accessed here