NI: Lawyer criticises safety measures at COVID-19 custody suite

NI: Lawyer criticises safety measures at COVID-19 custody suite

Joe Rice

A criminal defence lawyer has sharply criticised safety measures at a specialist COVID-19 custody suite established by the PSNI in Belfast.

The new “interview room with a perspex screen” at the Musgrave police station “is inadequate at best, and downright dangerous at worst”, solicitor Joe Rice told the Belfast Telegraph.

Weeks after Irish Legal News reported on the first time that a criminal defence lawyer had acted remotely for a client in a police interview in Northern Ireland, Mr Rice said solicitors are still often required to be physically present during interviews.

He said: “These adjustments are being heralded by the police as effective and dynamic but my view is that they have been put together without consultation from the legal profession.

“Given the small layout of the interview room, they also don’t take into account that not only will solicitors need Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) but others including interpreters and appropriate adults for vulnerable persons will have to be suitably equipped.

“I think it’s fair to say that the new measures fall far short of the standard that was to be expected with this proposal.”

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