Police lawyers pool ideas

IN-HOUSE lawyers working for police authorities are setting up an association to pool ideas and discuss common problems.

An ad hoc group has been in existence for several years but now a draft constitution is being drawn up with a view to setting up a formal association.

Chris Porteous, solicitor to the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, says an increasing number of police authorities are taking on their own lawyers for non-CPS related work.

This is due to the Police and Magistrates Courts Act, which will loosen police links with local government when the changes come into force next year. The growth in legal work is also encouraging police to take on their own lawyers rather than relying on county council solicitors.

A rise in civil actions against some police authorities, new public order issues, and legal questions over police powers and duties have increased the need for advice, says Porteous.

He says the aim of the new association will be for police lawyers to “exchange information, to discuss common problems and to develop common policies”.

“It will be a think-tank for lawyers around the country to discuss difficult problems.”

The group will not be formed until after April 1995, but is likely to be up and running by next summer.

Porteous adds that the association will aim to provide training which will qualify for points under the Law Society's programme of continuous practice development.