Duty solicitors - 194/15
Dated: 05 Mar 2015
Date of request: 20/02/15
Date of response: 04/03/15
Provision of information held by Northumbria Police made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the 'Act')(FOIA)
Thank you for your email dated 20 February 2015 in which you made a request for access to certain information which may be held by Northumbria Police.
As you may be aware the purpose of the Act is to allow a general right of access to information held by a Public Authority (including the Police), subject to certain limitations and exemptions.
My Freedom of Information questions relate to the Duty Solicitors scheme, https://www.dutysolicitors.org electronic database.
Please answer these questions by email:
1. Do police stations officers with custody suites at police stations use the Duty Solicitors online electronic database to find solicitors for those in custody who want to be represented by a solicitor?
2. Do the police station officers search or those in custody search this electronic database?
3. Is there a hard copy or a paper or laminated sheet or poster or some other electronic file with solicitor details kept at the police stations to use alternatively to the online electronic database?
4. Who chooses from the search the solicitor for those in custody, is it police officer or those in custody?
5. Is the solicitor chosen from the electronic database or sheet or e-file local to the police station usually?
6. Does the Duty Solicitors electronic database or the sheet or e-file specify the times of availability of the solicitors?
7. If someone in custody requires solicitor during night time, is there another list either electronically or is there an informal list?
8. If a solicitor is not on the Duty Solicitors official list, can the solicitor pitch themselves to the police stations for this work and be contacted by them?
We have now had the opportunity to fully consider your request and I provide a response for your attention.
Following receipt of your request, searches were conducted with the Custody Department of Northumbria Police. I can confirm that the information you have requested is held by Northumbria Police.
I am able to disclose the located information to you as follows.
Custody do not use any databases or contacts sheets. All requests for solicitors are made through the duty solicitors call centre. A reference number is obtained and recorded.
1. No, as detailed above, Northumbria Police use only the duty solicitors call centre .
4. The solicitor will be named by the detainee or is the duty solicitor.
5. No, as above
6. No, as above
7. No, it is the same call centre number
8. If a solicitor attends a suite then Police and Criminal Evidence Act requires that we give the detainee the option to see the solicitor and log this through the duty solicitor call centre. Solicitors are not permitted to attend custody to look for cases.
Due to the different methods of recording information across 43 forces, a specific response from one constabulary should not be seen as an indication of what information could be supplied (within cost) by another. Systems used for recording these figures are not generic, nor are the procedures used locally in capturing the data. For this reason responses between forces may differ, and should not be used for comparative purposes.
The information we have supplied to you is likely to contain intellectual property rights of Northumbria Police. Your use of the information must be strictly in accordance with the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 (as amended) or such other applicable legislation. In particular, you must not re-use this information for any commercial purpose.
How to complain
If you are unhappy with our decision or do not consider that we have handled your request properly and we are unable to resolve this issue informally, you are entitled to make a formal complaint to us under our complaints procedure which can be found at: http://www.northumbria.police.uk/foi/disclosurelog/foicomprights.asp
If you are still unhappy after we have investigated your complaint and reported to you the outcome, you may complain directly to the Information Commissioner’s Office and request that they investigate to ascertain whether we have dealt with your request in accordance with the Act.