Behind Closed Doors: Live Observations of Current Police Station Disclosure Practices and Lawyer-Client Consultations
Criminal Law Review, Issue 12, 2016
25 Pages Posted: 12 Jun 2017 Last revised: 14 Jun 2017
Date Written: December 1, 2016
Drawing on recent observational fieldwork as well as existing research studies in the fields of law and of psychology, this article examines the nature of police practices in the disclosure of evidence before and during custodial interviews of legally represented suspects. Whilst police pre-interview disclosure to lawyers was a fixed practice, the format of disclosure varied and lawyers were rarely permitted to inspect the evidence, relying instead on the officer’s account. Disclosure was sometimes provided in stages, either as a deliberate tactic or when evidence was lacking. Officers occasionally exaggerated the strength of their case to suspects and resisted providing more detail to lawyers – an approach that seemed designed to elicit an admission from the suspect. In line with past research, lawyers relied on the evidence that police disclosed when advising clients before the interview and occasionally argued with the police for more disclosure. Taken together, these findings suggest that police are complying with the minimum disclosure requirements set out by legislation, and that police may be more open with lawyers than previous research suggests. Some of our findings warrant concern, however, and raise questions about risks to vulnerable suspects in custody and risks to suspects without legal representation.
Keywords: Police Disclosure, Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Police Interviews
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