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Modernising powers of arrest 26/01/2018 Measures to modernise the law around arrest and questioning of suspects have come into force in Scotland.

Modernising powers of arrest

Measures to modernise the law around arrest and questioning of suspects have come into force in Scotland.

The changes under the Criminal Justice Act are intended to create new investigative tools for the police with additional scope for post-charge questioning, as well as protecting key rights for suspects, including access to legal advice.

Part 1 of the Act will:

  • Abolish the separate concepts of arrest and detention, and replace them with a single statutory power of arrest without warrant where there is reasonable grounds for suspecting a person has committed an offence
  • Enable police to release a suspect for further investigation with conditions (for up to 28 days) with the power to re-arrest
  • Place a duty on police to take every precaution to ensure a person is not unnecessarily held in police custody and explicitly protect a person’s right to remain silent
  • Extend the rights of those held, giving them the right to speak to a solicitor, regardless of whether or not they are going to be interviewed
  • Enhance protections for under 18s and include protections for 16 and 17 year olds which balance the right to self-determination
  • Include a duty to safeguard and promote the wellbeing of a child as a primary consideration when deciding whether to arrest the child.

“These are some of the most significant changes to police procedures in Scotland for at least a generation,” said Cabinet Secretary for Justice Michael Matheson. "The new framework strikes a balance between strengthening the powers available to police, while protecting the rights of the accused.”

The changes under Part I of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2016 were developed from recommendations in the Carloway Review of Scottish Criminal Law and Practice.


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