Detention staff denied a public defence counsel access to the suspect on the grounds no defence counsel appointment order was available

In the decision, the Parliamentary Ombudsman addresses several questions of both principal and practice as regards the right of contact between a person who is deprived of their liberty as an arrested or detained person and his or her defence counsel.

In the case under review, the Police Authority is criticised for having denied contact between a detained person and his public defence counsel on the sole ground that a defence counsel appointment order was not available to the detention staff.

The Parliamentary Ombudsman also states that it is important for judicial authorities to have effective procedures for the transmission and receipt of public defence counsel appointment orders. According to the Parliamentary Ombudsman, the Police Authority should initiate a review of current procedures. The work may also involve the Prosecution Authority and the National Courts Administration.

Date of decision: 2023-12-07