The Ranting Kraut

19.3.2006 – 27.9.2010

Legalising post-charge questioning

Posted by rantingkraut on August 29, 2008

The Times reports that: “The ban on police being able to question suspects after they have been charged would be scrapped in measures announced yesterday to increase the number of people being convicted.” (source) I don’t know much about the rationale for banning post charge questioning but am somewhat puzzled by the reason given to introduce the reforms “to increase the number of people being convicted.” There seems to be an increasingly accepted view of the legal process as a kind of production process with the number of convictions, rather than the administration of justice, as the end product.

Other details do not really mark changes in direction, they are
merely further small steps in the direction of inverting the burden of proof: “If a person refused to answer postcharge questions, courts would be able to draw an inference of guilt. (…) Courts would be allowed to draw an inference that suspects are guilty if they have refused to take part in an identity parade.

These plans are of course are presented as a way of cutting police red-tape. This is quite misleading. After all, the police are not being freed of excessive reporting requirements or sanctioned detection targets in the proposed reforms. Cutting superfluous bureaucracy is not the same as eliminating necessary safeguards.

On the bright side, more sinister plans for routinely harassing the general public seem to have been shelved:”Proposals to allow police to take DNA samples from people facing nonrecordable offences such as speeding and littering have been abandoned by the Government, however.


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