Law Society welcomes publication of post-corroboration safeguards report
The Law Society of Scotland has welcomed publication of Lord Bonomy's report on the Post-corroboration Safeguards Review today, Tuesday, 21 April 2015
Alistair Morris, president of the Law Society of Scotland, said: “Lord Bonomy has produced a thorough and wide ranging report and must be commended for the work that he and the review reference group have done in examining what safeguards should be adopted if the requirement for corroboration is to be abolished, He has in fact gone further, in recommending measures which could improve the criminal justice system whether or not the corroboration requirement is abolished.
“The Law Society strongly believed that abolishing the requirement for corroboration in isolation without a full review of its role in our criminal justice system would lead to an increased risk of miscarriages of justice.
“The report published today is an extensive piece of work and we are pleased to see that many of the concerns that the Law Society and others raised have been considered. Recommendations include methods to improve evidence of identification - including the removal of dock identification, a review of jury majority verdicts and further research on how juries reach verdicts. The report also considers that circumstances involving hearsay or confession evidence should retain a corroboration requirement.
“The report also recognises that as many as three out of four suspects waive their right to legal assistance while detained at a police station. Lord Bonomy specifically recommends that Scottish Ministers should abolish the requirement for some suspects to pay a contribution towards the cost of legal advice and assistance provided to them while they are in a police office. This would remove the possibility that a potential cost to the suspect is a factor in the low uptake of legal advice at this stage. There are also recommendations that all police interviews should be video recorded and the reasons given by the suspect if they choose to waive this right are also properly recorded.
“It is essential that we maintain a criminal justice system which is fair to both those accused of crime and those who are victims of crime and that every effort is made to minimise the possible risk of miscarriages of justice within our criminal courts. We await with interest Scottish Government’s response to the recommendations made and will continue to contribute to discussions on this important issue as it progresses.”