PACE and its Codes of Practice have not been amended during the Covid-19 pandemic. Police officers are required to secure the involvement of an AA for the same processes and procedures as prior to the pandemic. This includes the need to secure the attendance of an AA (as opposed to a remote / live link) for several procedures, including interviews.
- Please see NAAN's guidance on the levels of AA involvement required to achieve PACE compliance.
AA schemes have continued to attend police custody throughout Covid-19 pandemic. This is in line with NAAN guidance, which states that AAs should continue to attend custody, subject to:
- The detention being necessary
- Suitable PPE being available in line with the NPCC PPE guidance
- The custody suite is being run in line with national health and safety / PPE guidance.
The JIIP was originally agreed in March 2020 between the Crown Prosecution Service, National Police Chiefs' Council, The Law Society, Criminal Law Solicitors’ Association and London Criminal Courts Solicitors’ Association. It was intended as short-term emergency guidance to assist investigators and prosecutors in deciding whether suspects should be interviewed as part of a police investigation during the coronavirus pandemic. It also encourages the use of remote advice for suspects - a practice that is not covered by the PACE Act or Codes of Practice.
On the publication of the JIIP, NAAN encouraged the signatories to consider the lack of safeguards for children and vulnerable adult suspects. Version 2 of the JIIP introduced safeguards, including the need for police to carry out individual assessments of suitability and to secure the consent of the AA. However, these safeguards were not sufficiently effective in preventing disadvantage to suspects (and thereby risks to the reliability of evidence). The signatories agreed and, from 17 May 2021, JIIP version 3 excluded all children and vulnerable people from remote legal representation. This simplified the process for AAs, suspects and police.
JIIP version 4 (October 2021) introduced a presumption of in-person legal advice for all suspects, with four exceptions for when remote representation could be used. However, it also applied these exceptions to children and vulnerable adults. This conflicts with NAAN's understanding of the appropriate adult's duties and the suspect's rights in law.
After careful consideration, NAAN had concluded that we are uanble to advise AAs to agree to take part in interviews in which legal representation is to be provided remotely. However, AAs should continue to attend police custody in all cases. For further guidance, rationale and resources, please see the links below.
- NAAN's detailed position statement and rationale on remote legal representation
- Not remotely fair? Access to a lawyer in the police station during the Covid-19 pandemic report
- Legal opinion on JIIP by Joel Bennathan QC and Peta-Louise Bagott from Doughty Street Chambers
- Letter to the NPCC and CPS from Fair Trials and Transform Justice regarding legal opinion
- Joint Interim Interview Protocol on the CPS, Law Society or CLSA website.
- NAAN's detailed coronavirus guidance for AA scheme coordinators (NAAN membership required)
- NAAN's detailed coronavirus guidance for AA practitioners (NAAN membership required).