Arrested children can automatically receive legal advice

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Lammy: Call to experiment with rights counseling

The government questions whether children in police stations should have to refuse to receive legal advice, rather than adhere to it, as is currently the case.

But he still seems reluctant to give defendants the choice of duty counsel.

The Department of Justice (MoJ) has released an update on actions taken in response to the 2017 review of the treatment of Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority (BAME) people in the criminal justice system, which it has released. commissioned from Labor MP David Lammy, who was recently named Shadow Lord Chancellor.

One of the problems he found was that children and young people did not always use their right to legal advice – while the police inform children of their right to free legal advice, children do not understand always what it means, the role of the lawyer or how it could benefit them.

The update indicates that the Department of Justice and the Legal Aid Agency (LAA) are working closely to ensure that young people receive legal advice at the police station.

“This includes exploring the possibility for children to opt out rather than receiving legal advice. This comes in the context of the Department of Justice’s broader review of legal aid, which is examining how fees paid to lawyers at the police station can be reformed to provide legal advice to children.

In his high-profile report, Mr Lammy highlighted the lack of confidence BAME defendants have in their lawyers, which contributed to a situation in which black and Asian men were more than one and a half times more likely to plead no. guilty and risk higher penalties as a result.

He called on the Home Office, the Justice Department and LAA to work with the Bar and the Bar to experiment with different approaches to explaining rights and legal options to defendants, including possibly giving people a choice between different duty counsel and faster access to advice. lawyers.

The government has previously expressed reservations about granting duty counsel choice and the update – as with the last one in 2018 – makes no mention of this possibility.

He said: “The work to date has focused on the principle of experimenting with different approaches to explaining rights and legal options. Legal aid policy makers from the AAL and the Ministry of Justice worked with the Youth Justice Policy Team of the Ministry of Justice, on their research on the experience of BAME individuals in police custody and the obstacles that may prevent them from having confidence in the criminal justice system.

“This work has focused on the experience of young people, but the Department of Justice will explore how learning from this disproportion work can be applied to BAME adults as well as young people.”

At the same time, the LAA supported the University of Nottingham in the development of a website launched last year to provide information on rights and rights, especially for young people, by going to the police station for a voluntary interview.

The university’s Dr Vicky Kemp is also developing an app for use in voluntary interviews. This will prompt the police to vote on the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 and inform suspects of their legal rights.

“Dr Kemp is testing and developing the app with a police force. While the app will be used for all suspects, the information will be incorporated in a “child friendly” manner, informed by interviews with 95 children and young people, “the justice ministry said.

Mr Lammy recommended the creation of an online feedback system on how judges conduct cases in order to support their professional development.

Although the Justice Department rejected it, he said the judiciary continued to “work to further expand the use of evaluations,” including comments on how judges hear cases.

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