Tuesday, November 01, 2005

How Rude

I was the Police Station Duty Solicitor for a busy scheme on Saturday afternoon. Between the hours of 3pm and 11pm I had 12 cases referred to me. One of the cases was a female who had been accused of harassment.

It was slightly problematic contacting the Police Station after 9.30pm because 15 people were brought in for football violence following the Arsenal v Tottenham match. As the Police in the custody suite seemed to ignore the phone when I tried to phone them I had to rely on the Police phoning me.

I got a call about this female about 10.30 pm. The Officer told me that he was going to conduct the interview in the morning. I explained that I would speak to the Client and see whether she opposed that course of action. I then spoke to the Client and she was rather feisty straight away. At one point our conversation went like this:

Her: Are you coming down to the Police Station now?
Me: No. You are receiving free legal advice and assistance under legal aid. The government has seen fit to refuse to pay me to do work that is deemed unnecessary and at present the Officer in the case cannot provide me with disclosure, he has further investigations to carry out - therefore legal aid would not extend to me coming to see you unless there is a real issue to be dealt with.
Her: What?
Me: Are you a vulnerable person with mental health or learning difficulties?
Her: No.
Me: Are you a juvenile?
Her: No.
Me: Have the Police mistreated you?
Her: No, but I am still here.
Me: The Officer is not going to be in a position to interview you tonight. I need to discuss...
Her: [Shouting in the background] He aint coming down, what f***ing good is that. He can f*** off.
Me: Hello, hello... Is anyone there?

I tried to phone the Police Station back several times but they simply would not pick up the telephone. Due to the comments made by the Client I considered her to have dispensed with my services. I do not need to put up with comments like that. The Client was obviously upset that they were going to spend the night in a Police cell but if they were not going to listen to what I was going to say what was the point in acting for the Client?

The next day I received another phone call about the Client. The Police were ready to interview and the Client had asked for me to attend at the Police Station. I told the Police that she had dispensed with my services last night, so she would have to find another solicitor. The clever Client kicking off complaining about having to stay at the Police Station had ensured that she would be at the Police Station even longer as she had to find another solicitor. The moral to this story is do not bite the hand that feeds you .i.e. be nice to your solicitor.


Anonymous said...

I read your blog regularly with interest and amusement. I have worked in the same field for 13 years as crim solicitor in the East Midlands and echo all you say.

When I started this job I respected the police, now I loathe them. I feel that it would do them good to be in a position where criminal solicitors become a rare commodity like appropriate adults who they have to constantly suck up to.

It would be great to have the police actually treating you with respect pleading with you to attend because they are 'ready for interview now'. An imaginary exchange: 'Sorry Sergeant since the implementation of the 2007 Police Station Attendance Act there are no longer any legal aid firms. All solicitors work for the newly formed National Criminal Defence Service and at present there are two solicitors to cover the counties of Notts, Derbys, Leics, Lincs, Northants and South Yorkshire. (Rather like the police surgeon and appropriate adult systems). We should be able to get someone with you in 23 hours and 55 minutes though!! Alternatively I could say that I am ready to attend now and then keep you waiting for two hours and then leave and then just as I am pulling onto the drive you could say that you need me again.'

Nobody of course in their right mind would be stuck in a police station stinking of piss, puke, and crap at three in the morning balancing increasingly aggressive, self righteous and opinionated and ever more thicker police officers against horrendous clients whose drugs addictions and the fact that they are not getting bail for their 39th dwelling house burglary since last Wednesdayare all your fault.

Then couple this with having to be back at a desk at nine the next morning. Met with sarcastic stares or comments when you get in a 9-01 and 30 seconds having enjoyed a sleep from 5am - 8am.

All of this in an enviroment when as you say more pressure over billing when I personally am paid less than £25k per annum working for a bunch of tossers who are able to earn even more money whilst they are on the golf course on a Sunday morning. I think the last time my boss was in a police station was after he had had his car nicked!

Couple this with the 4th sucessive 'cost of living payrise' only when 'times are hard' and come the new financial year the car park will be full of BMW 7 series for that year of course my N reg Fiesta will be proudly parked in a pay and display car park nearly a mile out of the city centre when the accountant who lives a 6 minute (one unit) walk from the office and drives in never leaves the office.


Anonymous said...

Hm pack it all in then and try being a Police Officer, just a thought that I doubt would attract you.

Anonymous said...

I can promise the Crim Solicitor above that the police have a similar loathing of his kind too.

I don't doubt that those officers he has had dealings with would have interesting opinions of his professionalism as well.

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