Thursday, 19 January 2017

Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (Codes of Practice) (Revision of Codes C, D and H) Order 2016

Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (Codes of Practice) (Revision of Codes C, D and H) Order 2016 - Motion to Approve
– in the House of Lords at 4:30 pm on 19th January 2017.

Baroness Williams of Trafford The Minister of State, Home Department
The main revision to PACE Code C is to expressly permit the use of live-link communications technology for interpreters. The changes enable interpretation services to be provided by interpreters based at remote locations and allow access to be shared by forces throughout England and Wales. This will avoid interpreters having to travel to individual police stations, and improve the availability of interpreters for all languages. By reducing delays in the investigation, it will enable a more streamlined and cost-effective approach to the administration of justice. The revisions include safeguards for suspects to ensure, as far as practicable, that the fairness of proceedings are not prejudiced by the interpreter not being physically present with the suspect. The provisions therefore require the interpreter’s physical presence unless specified conditions are satisfied and allow live-link interpretation.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark Shadow Spokesperson (Housing), Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)
I have a number of questions to ask the Minister and hope that she will be able to answer me today—but, if she cannot, I will of course be very happy for her to write me. I turn first to Code C and the ability to permit the use of live-link communication technology for interpreters. This will allow for interpreters to be based at remote locations and for their services to be used by a number of police forces without the need for travel. I can see how this will help the police by speeding up their investigations. Can the noble Baroness confirm whether this facility will be used only in respect of suspects, or will the police be making use of it in respect of witnesses? Is that the intention of the change? Is it envisaged by the department that this will become the norm; will it be used on only limited occasions; or is it somewhere between the two? How will the test of fairness to the suspect be assessed, and what role will there be for the suspect’s solicitor in making representations on the appropriateness of the use of remote translation services?

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