Shake-up of police powers delayed amid fears over i6 clash
Justice Secretary confirms new regime for arrest, custody and questioning suspects will be pushed back
A proposed shake-up of police powers to arrest, hold in custody and question suspects will be delayed by up to five months, Justice Secretary Michael Matheson has confirmed.
MSPs on Holyrood’s Justice Committee are currently considering the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill, part 1 of which creates a new regime for arrest, custody and questioning of suspects.
Among changes in the pipeline is a reduction in the maximum period of time a suspect can be held in police custody for questioning to 12 hours.
However, MSPs raised fears in their Stage 1 report about the “significant burden” of implementing the provisions “on an already stretched police service and individual officers”.
The concerns stem from the fact Police Scotland is also in the process of delivering a single national IT system that will replace 135 different legacy force systems.
Matheson has now written to MSPs on the committee to inform them that implementation of changes under part 1 of the bill, if passed, will be pushed back by at least five months.
A letter sent to the committee said: “The Scottish Government continues to work closely with Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority on the practicalities and financial impact of implementing the Bill and its interaction with the i6 programme to ensure the timetable for implementation is achievable.
“Implementation had previously been planned for April 2016. Work is already well under way on developing the Police Scotland training programme.
“Taking into account the scale of the training exercise required – alongside the training requirements for the i6 roll-out, which is commencing this year – the Scottish Government believes it would be more appropriate to work towards implementation in autumn 2016.”
Deputy Chief Constable Neil Richardson is one of three witnesses from Police Scotland who will give evidence tomorrow before the justice sub-committee on policing on the i6 programme.
An issue with the hardware technology which runs i6 was highlighted to the single service last month, prompting a decision to replace it ahead of the new system going live.
Training has had to be rescheduled while a proposed pilot within Inverclyde and Renfrewshire was scrapped, though the force has insisted it does not expect any delays in overall rollout.
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