A question of wording

“DON'T Panic,” was the Law Society's advice to lawyers on the changes.

Some will find this hard to follow given the claims of a new police interviewing guide that the words of the new Act are open to “the widest possible meanings”.

The guide claims the definition of the word “object”, which a suspect can be asked to account for, could refer to a person, not just a thing. This interpretation is “outrageous” according to consultant forensic psychologist Dr Eric Shepherd, who trains police officers in

investigative techniques.

The police have attacked Law Society advice listing a large number of circumstances when it would still be better to advise silence. They have accused the Law Society of trying to “get round” the new rules.

It will not be until the Appeal Courts iron out the many problems surrounding the new law that anyone will know who is right.

How has the change in the right to silence affected your workload offering police station advice? Has it…?

Increased a lot: 19 per cent

Increased a little: 37 per cent

Neither increased nor decreased: 44 per cent

Decreased a little: less than 1 per cent

Do the majority of your clients understand the caution?

Yes:39 per cent

No:60 per cent

No response: 1 per cent

Has the change in law made police station advice:

Far less important: 1 per cent

Less important : 0.5 per cent

No difference: 7 per cent

More important: 31 per cent

Far more important: 60 per cent

How has the quality of pre-interview disclosure changed? Has it…?

Improved a lot: 24 per cent

Improved a little: 42 per cent

No change: 31 per cent

Got a little worse: 3 per cent