Pauline Wright raised an issue relating to police claiming that solicitors are ‘exploiting a loop-hole’ relating to the right to silence. She explained that under the present law, a person’s right to silence is preserved where a solicitor for the accused is not present at the time they are questioned by Police. She advised that there had been reported cases where police were ‘assisting’ suspects gain legal representation (eg by walking them to Legal Aid offices) in order to ‘remove’ the right to silence by purporting to administer a caution at the Legal Aid office.
Pauline emphasized that the requirement for a solicitor to be present before a person’s right to silence is effectively waived was not a ‘loop hole’ that people of interest were exploiting but an important legal protection. She suggested that NSWCCL should write to the NSW Police Force Commissioner urging police to adhere to the spirit of the provision. Hans Heilpern recommended an amendment to the motion to include writing to the Attorney-General. The amendment was accepted by Pauline and the amended resolution was put.
That the NSWCCL write to the Attorney-General and NSW Police Commissioner to register its objection to the conduct of police officers accompanying persons of interest to legal aid offices and purporting to administer a caution at the legal aid office. NSWCCL reminds police to adhere to the spirit of section 89A of the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities)
Moved Pauline Wright / Martin Bibby: That the proposed resolution relating to the right to
silence be approved. Carried.