A cautionary tale

The results of The Lawyer survey on attitudes to the change in the law affecting a suspect's “right to silence” make alarming reading.

The raison d'etre of the law, that less “guilty” people would escape justice, seems at odds with the findings which reveal that six in ten solicitors believe that there is no change. And while duty scheme solicitors are experiencing a bonanza in their work as a result of the new rules, over half those questioned believed that the risk of a miscarriage of justice had increased.

The level of co-operation by police officers is still poor with 11 per cent unco-operative and a further 18 per cent indifferent to solicitors requesting sufficient pre-interview disclosure at a police station. The majority of solicitors find their clients do not understand the new caution and that it has increased the pressure on suspects not to remain silent, with most more likely to advise their clients not to remain silent.

The experience of those working on the ground matches up to the warnings which were put forward before the changes in the law. Not only has the Government forgotten the lessons of the past 20 years, it has put in place a system which is likely to create more miscarriages.