Thursday, May 26, 2011
Police want power to issue their own search warrants circumventing the checks and balances of a Sheriff, any politicians stupid enough to back it?
In any system of justice there must be checks and balances.
The Police want the power to issue their own search warrants.
In effect they want to act as a de facto court where it will be their judgement whether to kick someone’s door.
No, not at all, it strays took much into territory beyond their remit.
Who thought up this donkey?
The Association of Scottish Police Superintendents, they are calling for the age-old Scots law safeguard of sheriff warrants to be scrapped.
Senior officers mistakenly believe last year’s Cadder ruling judgment strengthens their case, which is sheer nonsense.
And this isn’t for the benefit of suspects as officers argue; they are having to spend more time than they need to behind bars while police wait for a sheriff to sign off a warrant that could determine their guilt.
Chief Superintendent David O’Connor, president of the association, stressed that decisions on warrants should not be made by officers investigating the matter in question, but by a separate senior figure, at least of inspector rank.
Chief Superintendent David O’Connor shouldn’t involve himself in matters which are the province of Parliament.
I think if this was brought before Holyrood, it would get blown out the door pretty sharpish.
And O’Connor wants a system similar to that of England and Wales.
Surely an easy solution is before arresting people on serious issues like drugs or human trafficking etc, get the warrant first.
Under this scheme, if the Police pick anyone up, they could just go fishing in a person’s home based on no evidence whatsoever.
Would we have warrants granted on a subjective whim?
So, clearly checks and balances are needed and warrants must remain the province of the Sheriff.
And as to the argument fronted that the Police are interested so that people don’t spend too much time locked up and are interested in their ‘welfare’, I think adults can see through that like a sheet of clear glass.
Although Cadder change Scottish practices, it should not be a justification for allowing mission creep by the Police.
Lord Carloway, is currently reviewing Scottish legislation to see if it can be hammered into line with European norms.
This raises the issue why the Police and Crown Office hadn’t done this before; clearly they wanted to continue the status quo!
They weren’t interested that they were violating human rights of people detained until they were forced to do so by law.
If they weren’t smart enough to be pro active, should we make them less accountable?
Carloway has put forward some simple practical proposals for reducing the amount of time suspects are in detention, including Saturday courts.
Good idea; has merit and O’Connor backs those but would also like Lord Carloway to look at warrants.
“Let there be no doubt that these decisions and the emergency legislation that resulted presented the police with significant operational issues to manage. There is a need to get suspects out of police custody sooner. Many could be out before a solicitor even arrives.”
If Carloway is one of the one of the country’s most respected legal minds, he will bounce this straight out the door.
And solicitors are also nervous about police demands for searches.
Late in 2009 police raided the Glasgow home of a woman called Sonja Wilson. Items were recovered during that search and Ms Wilson was questioned about them without a lawyer being present.
Late last year a sheriff upheld a complaint from Ms Wilson’s solicitor that she should have had access to legal advice during that interview in her home.
The matter is now going to the UK Supreme Court.
That interview could be carried out with lawyers present.
The move to English-style police search warrants, however, could be granted so quickly it would be impossible for Cadder-style demands for access to a lawyer to be made.
That, legal sources said last night, is why some police chiefs are so keen on scrapping sheriff warrants.
They want to try and circumvent justice to make their life easier.
And that is why the European Convention on Human Rights was created, to stop abuses by the State.
Will this fly?
I don’t think so, we live in a corrupt country were our institutions don’t function for the benefit of the citizens, something which must be addressed if independence is to be achieved.
Police issuing their own search warrants, the answer is no!
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University