Anorak News | One For The Defence

One For The Defence

by | 10th, November 2006

Explaining the relationship uniformed officers have with defence solicitors is difficult, especially if you’re american where (so I’m told) the relationship is much more confrontational and you have a right to silence.

It sometimes seems like I’ve known Mr. Saunders for ever. I certainly see him far more often than I see my own bosses; I even have his mobile number in my Police Federation diary.

Although he now is “an accredited police station adviser” he used to be a Chief Inspector over in Weatherby where, by all accounts, he was well-respected by the troops.

I meet Mr. Saunders about three times a week in Newtown custody when he represents a suspect I have to interview. It’s normal practice for officers to ring the custody block whenever they’re ready to interview a suspect, custody them telephone the solicitor who arrives within the hour. However, if it’s Mr. Saunders, I usually telephone him myself when I’m ready.

“Evening officer,” says Mr. Saunders as he sees me behind the desk.
“Evening Mr. Saunders, would you like some disclosure?” I ask as I hand over the suspect’s custody record.
“Yes, I think we’d better get started,” He replies.

So together we troop into an interview room and I outline the circumstances of his client’s arrest and some of the evidence against him. After this there’s a pause. Mr. Saunders stops writing and I stare into the middle distance. Although the offence (shoplifting in this case) took place at lunchtime, it’s taken until now (11.00pm) for the suspect to be fit for interview. I’ve dragged Mr. Saunders from his home for this and now he realises that it’s the same nonsense that I always end up dealing with.

“I really am sorry about this Mr. Saunders, I couldn’t give him a ticket because he was so drunk. Perhaps you’d like to look at the CCTV?”

The prospect of some real evidence seems to make Mr. Saunders perk up a bit, so together we go and look at the footage which shows his client stuffing a bottle of whisky down his trousers, then holding it as he tries to “casually amble” past the tills. Mr. Saunders sighs and the depression I managed to temporarily relieve with the CCTV seems to returns.

“You never know Mr. Saunders I might manage something important before too long.”

After speaking to his client for half an hour, Mr. Saunders and I know the end is now near. We introduce ourselves on tape at the beginning of the interview. Some solicitors go on and on with,“I’m a solicitor, I am here to represent my client in this interview and to safeguard his legal rights and entitlements. Should any evidence be introduced during this interview which has not already been disclosed to me, I will advise my client not to make any comment…blah, blah,blah”

Fortunately, Mr. Saunders simply says, “Mike Saunders, police station advisor” and off we go.

As expected, Mr. Saunders’ advice prompted what we in the police call a “full and frank”, meaning a full and frank confession of the offence of stuffing a bottle of whisky down your pants and getting caught by security outside. I walk Mr. Saunders outside to the car park.

“Good night Dave,”
“Good night Mr. Saunders, see you tomorrow.”

Posted: 10th, November 2006 | In: Reviews Comment | TrackBack | Permalink