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?

Dear All

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.

Good idea?

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.

He said:

“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.

But wasn’t.

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!

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University


The Source said...

Who the hell does this Chief Constable Steven House think he is??
Over the last few months him and his cronies at Strathclyde's elite have been trying to overpower themselves with new powers and trying to rake trouble over more say in relation to we see he wants to have more power in relation to search warrant's
If thats the case, send him back to his english home where it is a different legal system down there and let him be a chief constable there.
He is hopeless for Strathclyde police and is only hanging about because he wants to be "the man" behind Scotlands only police force....he is no use to the people of Glasgow/Strathclyde and should be senthome to where he came from....

George Laird said...

Dear The Source

He was born in Glasgow but moved to England.

If he is wanting Chief Constable of The National Police Force, he should oppose this.

I don't think being anti human rights will sell his candidacy.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Mountain Adventures Scotland said...

Hi George

May I kindly suggest you open the comments on you're blog for anonymous (you can moderate them) comments.

Anonymous said...

they have enough powers right now they dont need any more and go out and catch hardened criminals it would to work harder at fighing crime they dont work nearly hard enough the are on easy street get them on the front line in afghanistan and teach the how hard it is to fight criminals and on a solider pay they would start crying for their mums shower of wimps jimhh