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Impact of legislation on detention times

Figures collated by the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (ACPOS) show that across Scotland, suspects detained by the police have exercised the right to consult a solicitor in 24.3% of cases.

The report provides analysis of 20,499 detentions over two periods totalling 208 days, an average of 98.5 people per day.

Police forces across Scotland began recording additional information about detentions following the introduction of legislation last year which allowed those suspected of having committed crime the right to speak to a solicitor before, or at any time during, questioning.

After the legislation was introduced, the detention time was increased from the maximum of 6 hours to a new maximum of 12 hours. The extension was to facilitate solicitor access while ensuring police still had sufficient time to question suspects. In certain circumstances this could be extended by a further 12 hours to a maximum of 24.

The report however highlights that most detentions remain less than six hours (83.5%) and few are over 12 hours (0.8%). The average detention time where a person waives the right to speak to a solicitor is three hours and 55 minutes. Although the average time taken to have an initial telephone contact with a solicitor is two hours 54 minutes, the overall detention time for someone who does request solicitor access is just one hour longer at four hours and 55 minutes.