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Parliament approves changes to Scots law
The Scottish Parliament has passed the Criminal Procedure (Legal Assistance, Detention and Appeals) (Scotland) Act - the emergency legislation required in response to Tuesday's decision in the UK Supreme Court on the case HMA v Cadder.
The UK Supreme Court decision had significant and immediate implications for the investigation and prosecution of crime in Scotland.
The Act in response to the decision has four main aims:
Enshrine a right to legal advice for suspects detained and questioned by police
Extend the maximum interview period from six to 12 hours in all cases. It also permits further extension (up to a maximum total detention period of 24 hours) in specific cases where a senior officer affirm extension is required because of specific circumstances
Provide a mechanism to ensure adequate legal aid arrangements are available
Make provision to reinforce the principles of certainty and finality set out in the ruling
Royal Assent is expected this week meaning the Act comes into force a matter of days following the Supreme Court decision.
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said:
"I am pleased that the Scottish Parliament has passed this legislation and made the changes necessary to ensure that criminal procedure in Scotland is compliant with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
"Only last October, seven Scottish High Court judges at the Scottish Appeal Court unanimously determined that our existing procedures complied with ECHR. However yesterday the UK Supreme Court decided differently and the current constitutional set-up means that decisions by the UK Supreme Court overrule decisions taken by the Scottish Appeal Court.
"While that cannot be right, and I will be taking this matter up with the Advocate General for Scotland, we had no option but to take swift legislative action to protect the victims of crime and safeguard communities. I believe that the Bill represents an immediate response to the judgement that balances the rights of suspects with measures to help police investigate crime effectively - I am pleased that Parliament has agreed. Justice requires a balance between the rights of an accused person and those of victims and communities.
"I would like to thank all of those who have worked with the Scottish Government to prepare for every contingency arising from the case. It is through continuing to work together that we can help ensure that the scales of justice in Scotland remain appropriately balanced between the rights of the accused and the rights of the victims of crime."