Clause 12 lives on

Despite earlier guarantees from the Minister that free legal advice would remain in place the Bill proceeds on it’s merry way. Please show your opposition to this proposal and contact your MP.

Giving such important constitutional matters such little parliamentary time could be seen as deliberate.

The Minister tried to reassure all fevered brows in the Committee stage of the bill that there were no plans to remove the right to free legal advice in custody, despite opposing any opting-in to the proposed EU Directive on treatment of suspects in custody.

The justification given was that we already lead the way, which may well be true, so it is chilling to read the General Committee debate of 8th September.

Have a look at page 428 to 440 where Clause 12 is debated, and where Djangolly tries to reassure (us) that there is no plan to implement means-testing in police stations, but the government wants to have the option to do in the future:

“…practicalities are the greatest stumbling-block and costs could be significant…we do not have any immediate plans to introduce means-testing…for those in custody.” [Djangolly p437/8]

He goes to say that if it were to be implemented it would be widely consulted upon (rather than the complete failure to consult on Clause 12 itself).

“…I agree there are questions about practicalities, and we are not currently consulting on the measure as we are not currently proposing to put it into effect. At some time in the future it might be seen as something to bring forward, and at that point we would have a careful look at the practicalities – how it is conducted in other countries and how it might be done cost-effectively – and there would then be a full consultation. But we are not at that point now.” [Djangolly p. 440]

The Clause 16 debate is also rather chilling, as Djangolly attempts to argue that the ability of the Director to amend the Widgery Criteria, strengthens rather than weakens the I of J test. [ Djanogolly p. 446]

All in all, we are at a very interesting place. The Committee Stage is due to be debated in the House on 13th and 15th September, and we urge you to oppose it by writing to your MP, and raising the issue where and when you can.