Police exasperated at lawyer reluctance to attend arrests

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NSW Lawyers are deliberately avoiding police stations when their clients are arrested according to The NSW Police Association.

The avoidance stems from the new right to silence laws which police say are leading to longer investigation times and are calling for a review into the laws, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Under the new law introduced by the O’Farrell government in 2013, failing to mention something when arrested may harm a defence later used in trial, however the law is not applied unless the accused has a lawyer present.

“Police officers are extremely frustrated in regards to lawyers that are meant to defend offender's rights not turning up and protracting​ the ongoing investigation when it's not necessary,” Police Association president Scott Weber told the Herald.

“This is a common occurrence and there needs to be a review of the current legislation and amendments, so that the intent of the legislation is utilised.”

Pauline Wright, chair of the Law Society’s criminal law committee, told SMH that lawyers are doing a better job at protecting their clients by not attending.

“We are helping by not turning up and that's unfortunate. We would prefer to see the laws go back to the way they were. It worked better for the police as well as for justice,” she said.

“You would be negligent to your client if you did go [to represent them] under these laws. If you go along to the police station with your client, you are putting your client at risk of saying something stupid or ill-informed and possibly harm their defence – what lawyer would take that risk?”

She added that there are reasons other than this loophole that people decide not to talk to police when first arrested, like shock or fear.
  • John Sutton on 28/07/2015 7:26:02 AM

    I am a criminal law specialist and one of those lawyers who carefully considers the benefits of attending police stations. I have certainly stayed away on numerous occasions. The idea od compelling an accused to speak is contrary to all good law. It is pleasing to see the actions of sensible lawyers are being noticed.

  • June hartman on 24/07/2015 1:08:20 PM

    I am extremely concerned about those in the Justice System that suffer from intellectual disabilities. Even with a lawyer and support person present at the Police Station, it is highly probable they would not understand the process. In all likelihood they initially will not recall events.

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