Police station duty plans

How the duty plan works

Please contact Tracy Brown, Duty Plans Officer, on 0131 240 1945 or by email if you are interested in being included in the police station duty plan.

The duty plan is not published on our website and is only used by the Solicitor Contact Line when someone requires advice in a police station.

Fees and arrangements for police station work

The commencement of Part 1 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2016 and supporting legal aid regulations altered police station advice.

New police station fees and a simplified advice and assistance intimation and payment system were introduced on 25 January 2018 following consultation with the profession.

Police station work is now covered by these increased fees on a predominantly fixed or block fee basis. The fee structure was changed to block fees to be more efficient for solicitors.

You can view an archived version of the information that we sent to solicitors about these fees at the time of the changes.

Providing police station advice

We have summarised some of the queries solicitors had when Part 1 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2016 was introduced. Please contact Kingsley Thomas, Head of Criminal Legal Assistance, thomaski@slab.org.uk if you need any more information.

  • What happens if my client asks for a consultation with me?

    Request for a consultation with a named solicitor – Section 44, Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2016

    Who will contact you?

    The police will contact the named solicitor directly.

    What does the Code require?

    The Code has no provisions which require a solicitor to provide advice.

    The solicitor can choose to answer the phone, or not.

    The solicitor can choose whether to accept instructions from the client, or not.

    All that is required by 6.7 - 6.9 of the Code is that:

    • the solicitor has provided phone or messaging details so the police can contact the firm
    • where the solicitor decides to accept instructions, advice is given in a reasonably practical timescale under regard to the best interests of the client, the facts and circumstances and arrangements made with the investigating officer
    • that a record is kept.

    How will you get paid?

    Advice and assistance.

    New block fees with single and simplified online application and accounts process.

    There is no requirement to be on the Duty Scheme to be paid for providing advice to your own clients.

    What happens if you aren't available?

    Unless the solicitor has set an outgoing voicemail message indicating that they are not available, the police will wait for 30mins.

    On being advised that their named solicitor is unavailable, if the individual wants advice from the duty solicitor, this will be provided by the SCL.

  • What happens if my client asks for me to be present at interview?

    Request for a named solicitor to be present at interview - Section 32, Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2016

     Who will contact you?

    The police will contact the named solicitor directly.

    What does the Code require?

    The Code has no provisions which require a solicitor to provide advice.

    The solicitor can choose to answer the phone, or not.

    The solicitor can choose whether to accept instructions from the client, or not.

    All that is required by 6.7 - 6.9 of the Code is that:

    • the solicitor has provided phone or messaging details so the police can contact the firm
    • where the solicitor decides to accept instructions, advice is given in a reasonably practical timescale under regard to the best interests of the client, the facts and circumstances and arrangements made with the investigating officer
    • that a record is kept.

    How will you get paid?

    Advice and assistance.

    New block fees with single and simplified online application and accounts process.

    There is no requirement to be on the Duty Scheme to be paid for providing advice to your own clients.

    What happens if you aren't available?

    The police will wait for 30mins.

    On being advised that the named solicitor is unavailable, if the individual wants to be represented by the duty solicitor, the SCL will refer the case to the duty solicitor.

  • What happens if someone asks for a duty solicitor at interview?

    Request for the presence of the duty solicitor at interview - Section 32, Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2016

     Who will contact you?

    The police will contact the SCL.

    What does the Code require?

    The Code places no additional requirement on the duty solicitor.

    How will you get paid?

    Advice and assistance.

    New block fees with single and simplified online application and accounts process.

    What happens if you aren't available?

    The SCL will contact the duty solicitor. As at present, if they are unavailable, then the SCL will contact other duty solicitors on the local or other plans until someone is available or the SCL or PDSO will attend the interview.

  • What happens if someone asks for a consultation with a duty solicitor?

    Request for a consultation with a duty solicitor - Section 44, Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2016

    Who will contact you?

    The police will contact the SCL.

    What does the Code require?

    N/A

    How will you get paid?

    The SCL will provide the advice by telephone where the arrested person has not already instructed a solicitor for the case.

    What happens if you aren't available?

    N/A

  • What happens if intimation is to be made to a solicitor?

    Right of intimation to a solicitor - Section 43, Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2016

    Where it is unlikely that there will be an interview or a consultation.

    Who will contact you?

    The police will contact the named solicitor or the court duty solicitor, depending on who the individual has asked for.

    What does the Code require?

    The Code places no additional requirement on a solicitor.

    There is no requirement to acknowledge a s43 intimation.

    How will you get paid?

    N/A

    What happens if you aren't available?

    The police will leave a voicemail message.

  • What happens if someone arrested on a non-appearance warrant needs advice?

    Advice to those arrested on a non-appearance warrant - Section 44, Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2016

     Who will contact you?

    The police will contact the named solicitor or the SCL if the arrested person has not already instructed a solicitor for that case.

    What does the Code require?

    The Code places no additional requirement on a solicitor.

    How will you get paid?

    Advice and assistance.

    New block fees with single and simplified online application and accounts process.

    What happens if you aren't available?

    The Law Society’s advice is that where there is a named solicitor then only they can provide advice in these circumstances. Unless the named solicitor provides information to another solicitor about the case and instructs them to provide the advice, then no other solicitor can provide advice.

    We offered to make available the SCL to give advice but unless the named solicitor provides sufficient information to the SCL, they will be unable to do so on the named solicitor’s behalf.

    If the individual has no solicitor, then the SCL will provide advice.

  • Police Scotland guidance and forms

    Police Scotland have provided its operating procedures and guidance to support the legal profession in the transition towards CJ Act powers.

    The following primary guidance documents and forms outline how the police will implement their responsibilities in terms of the Act.

    They have also shared the primary guidance reference for officers in respect of their use of arrest powers.

    In the custody environment, a person's rights will be delivered to them and recorded on the National Custody System - which has been revised to reflect the Act. However, the business continuity forms, which summarise the rights delivered to arrested persons, have also been included.

    Police Scotland guidance and forms

    1) Revised Solicitor access Guidance Document
    This document provides appropriate guidance in relation to solicitor access for people in police custody following the implementation of the Act.

    2) PIRoS Form (SARF replacement)
    Police Interview – Rights of Suspects (PIRoS) form

    3) Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the Act
    This SOP provides instruction and guidance to all police officers/members of police staff in relation to Criminal Justice processes and procedures in respect of arrest and custody as required by the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2016.

    4) Custody forms
    These six forms replicate Police Scotland’s online screens and show the usual rights information that will be recorded on the National Custody System (NCS).
    Please note, the forms are for Business Continuity use in the event of the NCS system being down.

    5) Arrest powers guidance for officers - provided within police notebooks - including Pre Interview Review of Rights
    Guidance for officers on their use of arrest powers.

    6) Arrest powers Aide Memoire for officers
    - Details revised powers of arrest

    7) Waiver Form
    For use regarding the recording of the relevance person in respect of 16 and 17 year olds.

    8) Undertaking Form
    Form to be used for liberation from police custody for court appearance by way of undertaking

    9) Investigative Liberation Operational Guidance
    Provides guidance on Investigative Liberation when dealing with a Not Officially Accused Person (NOA), formally known as a suspect, who is suspected of committing a relevant offence, punishable by imprisonment.

    10) Investigative Liberation Flowchart
    The flow chart that breaks down the initial application, authorisation and review of the Investigative Liberation process.

Practical information for duty solicitors

  • As a duty solicitor am I obliged to undertake police station advice?

    No.

    • When the SCL contact a duty solicitor, the duty solicitor is not required to provide advice or representation if they are unavailable to do so.
    • If the duty solicitor is not available because they are in court, giving police station advice to another client or are unavailable for personal reasons, that’s fine. The SCL will contact another duty solicitor.
    • The Code of Practice does not include an obligation on the duty solicitor to attend.
    • No action will be taken against duty solicitors who are unable to attend.
  • Do I have to attend the police station within an hour?

    No.

    • The important thing to do is agree with the police when you will be able to attend. The only requirement in the Code of Practice is that: where a solicitor accepts instructions, they should provide the advice in a reasonably practical timescale with regard to the best interests of the client, and the facts and circumstances of the case. This includes arrangements discussed and made with the investigating officer of Police Scotland or other relevant agency.
    • Therefore: circumstances such as travel distances, weather conditions, road conditions, whether the client is fit to speak, whether police investigations are on-going and they are not ready to interview immediately are all relevant circumstances.
  • Providing the police with your chosen out-of-hours number

    When your client asks the police to contact you it’s important that they try to do so on a phone number that best suits your working arrangements.

    The implementation of Part 1 of the Criminal Justice Act means the police can contact solicitors directly when your clients request advice. Duty cases are referred to the Solicitor Contact Line, along with cases where the named solicitor cannot provide advice.

    The police have access to the court duty plans and the Criminal Legal Assistance Register, but the phone numbers on these are office numbers. If you have other contact phone numbers you’d prefer they use for out of hours, please ensure that these are passed to your local police station.

  • What police reference number do I need for an A&A intimation and claim?

    You need the Police Scotland Custody System Unique Reference Number for the case. Some police officers are referring to this as the NCS Reference number (National Custody System).This is a national sequential number allocated each time a person is booked into police custody. The number is currently about 152,000.

  • Does the client need to sign any form for police station advice?

    No mandates or declaration forms need to be signed for police station advice cases, even where the advice is given in person at the police station.

    We have created a data capture form, which is to help you get the information you need to complete the new A&A intimation and claim.

    The form also sets out the new fees. You might find it helpful to retain this form in your own case file.

  • Do I still need to be on the Police Station Duty plan to claim for advice and assistance given to my own clients?

    You do not have to be on the police station duty plans to advise/attend and submit an account.

    If you are not on the Duty plans you will not get any calls for a duty attendance/advice, but will still get calls from the police if your client has named you as their solicitor.

  • Do I still need an A&A increase before attending a police station?

    In the vast majority of cases, no. The old A&A increases are no longer needed for attending police stations.

    For police interviews, the initial limit is now set at £550, so unless the attendance is very lengthy, or travel will exceed 2 hours, you don't need to get in touch with us before you set out.

    For all other attendances at police stations, the initial limit is set at £225. You will only need prior authority for travel over two hours or for any other outlays which take the expenditure over £225.

    In the event that an increase is required, this can be arranged in advance by telephoning:

    • The Criminal Applications Department during office hours on 0131 226 7061 (code 1213)
    • The A&A Helpline up to 22.00 on 07711 424344
    • The Solicitor Contact Line from 22.00 to 08.30 on 0131 240 2696.
  • Attendances for vulnerable clients

    Do I have to attend the police station if the police say the person in custody is vulnerable?

    No.

    • It is well established that a solicitor can only act where a client instructs them.
    • The 2016 Act creates a framework in which the circumstances for an interview are dependent on criteria being met by the police. There is nothing in the Act which creates an obligation on a solicitor to attend and no-one can insist on that. This applies to named solicitors and duty solicitors.
    • We will only ask duty solicitors to attend if the individual has specifically requested this

    When can I claim the additional fee for a consultation with a vulnerable client?

    Schedule 3 Part 4, paragraph 3 of the new Fee Regulations specify that a higher rate is payable for a Section 44 consultation personal attendance but only in circumstances where “a constable determines the client has a mental disorder”.

    A “mental disorder” has the meaning given in section 328 of the Mental Health (Care & Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003. Accordingly you will need to find out from the police whether such a determination has been made. In addition the higher fee can also be paid where the police have invoked the “appropriate adult” arrangements.

     

  • VIPER procedure

    Police Scotland and COPFS will make no change to VIPER procedure on 25 January 2018. The Scottish Government is setting up a working group, including solicitors, to look at how identification can be done at an earlier stage, where identification is assessed as a relevant issue.

  • Attendance at interviews conducted by other organisations

    The new regulations includes a list of other agencies and their officers which are to be treated as equivalent to police officers for the purposes of the regulations. The effect of this is that the new “police station” fees arrangements apply in relation to relevant procedure undertaken by:

    • Railway and Transport Police
    • Officers appointed under the Energy Act 2004 (Civil Nuclear Police Authority or Constabulary)
    • Ministry of Defence Police
    • Immigration officers
    • Customs officials
    • Revenue and Customs officers (HMRC)

    Legal advice and attendances at interviews conducted by any of these officers can be provided under the new advice and assistance system at the new fee rates. If the interviews take place at a Scottish Police station, a Police Scotland National Custody System Unique Reference Number will be allocated once the client is booked in at the station, and you still need to enter this on your advice and assistance claim. If the interview takes place at any other location, you need to tell us of this and add the name and address of the facility.

    DWP interviews

    The prescribed list does not include officials authorised under section 109A-C of the Social Security Administration Act 1992, and so does not include any interviews conducted by Department of Work and Pensions officials. Attendance at DWP interviews cannot be claimed under the new system at the new fee rates. These attendances need to be covered by the existing “old style” advice and assistance, with the client signing the usual online declaration form, and being assessed for financial eligibility and/or a contribution.  ayment for these cases is made at the standard criminal A&A rates. Increases in expenditure to cover any attendances at these interviews still need to be made in advance of the attendance.

    This also applies to any interviews conducted by any other agencies not listed above, such as the Health and Safety Executive or local authorities. Standard advice and assistance can be provided, but not under the new police station scheme.

    If you have additional queries not addressed here, please contact: Kingsley Thomas, Head of Criminal Legal Assistance, E: thomaski@slab.org.uk

  • Can I be paid for waiting time at a police station?

    The 0–2 hours and 2–4 hours block fees cover the total attendance time at the police station. This includes any time waiting to either consult with the client or for the interview to commence.

    When attending one client you should record the time from entry to exit of the police station and then select the appropriate fee for that time period.

    If you are attending more than one eligible client, a fee will be payable for each (and a custody reference will be required for each). You should apportion your time between or across the clients in terms of time spent on each, and then charge the fee appropriate to each client on the basis of the time apportioned to that client where the fee is determined by time.

    Travel time is treated differently – please see Question 4 for more details.

  • Travel
    • Does travel time need to be included as part of the attendance fee?

    There is a separate work item for travel which is at a different rate so this should not be included within any attendance fee.

    • How do I submit a claim for travel if I attended a police station and my client was interviewed about two seperate matters?

    In these cases you should apportion the return travel between the two cases but charge for a travel work item individually in each case at the apportioned cost.

    It is important to bear in mind that the two hour travel threshold applies regardless of whether you are travelling to see one or more clients. You must always obtain our prior approval before we can make payment of the time engaged beyond two hours.

  • Voluntary attendance at police station by client
    • How do I submit a claim if my client is invited to an interview and wants me to accompany them?
    Your client will be booked in by the police and their details entered on their National Custody System (NCS) if they ar invited to attend an interview .  This will allow you to obtain the NCS police reference number which you need for submitting any claim for attendance at the interview.
    If your client is not interviewed, and is charged right away and thereafter detained in custody, then again their details will be entered by the police on their NCS custody system. You should then be able to get the reference number from the police to allow you to claim for the consultation with the client.

    However, if the client is not interviewed, and not detained at all in the police station but is charged and released, then no claim can be submittedf under the A&A regulations introduced for the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2016.  Where no interview takes place, and the client is not detained, then you can still grant standard advice and assistance in the normal way.

    • Should the time engaged discussing matters in my office by be added to the time engaged at the police station?

    Any time necessarily engaged with the client in the office would not be covered under the CJA advice and assistance. A separate grant of standard advice and assistance (with standard eligibility criteria and a contribution, if any) should be made available to the client if they are eligible, to cover any work actually, necessarily and reasonably done prior to the voluntary attendance. The standard accounts procedure also applies.

  • How do I submit a claim if I initially advised my client by telephone and the attended for an interview, or if the interview was cancelled or rescheduled?

    For telephone calls and interviews you only need to claim one ‘section 32 interview’ work item for the telephone call and police station attendance. Just enter the start time of the call and the stop time of your attendance at the police station.

    We’ll ask you to calculate any gap time between the start time of the telephone call to the end of your visit to the police station. The gap time is any time spent doing other things (travelling or doing other work until interview takes place).

    If the interview has been cancelled, just enter the start time of your first attendance at the police station and the stop time as the end of the last attendance and calculate the gap time.

    Travelling and mileage are claimed as separate work items.

    Please contact Karen Shaw in our Accounts Department on 0131 240 2058 if you encounter any problems working this out.

  • Is there a time limit to send you notification that I’ve granted A&A for police station advice?

    You have 14 days from the date of the first item of work to register the grant of A&A. We’ll issue a reference number immediately. You then have 12 months from the last valid work item on your account to submit your claim for payment.

  • When should I tick the ‘midnight’ box when submitting a claim?

    Only select "Yes" if the individual work item began pre-midnight and ended post-midnight - we need it to calculate the correct total hours for that specific work item.