Understanding the duty solicitor scheme – What to expect.

When you are arrested you have a legal right, free of charge to legal representation and consultation whilst at the Police Station for the purpose of interview.

If you have had involvement with the Police before or for other reasons you know which Criminal Defence Solicitors firm you wish to use then you can request this firm of solicitors to the duty sergeant whilst you are been booked into custody.

If you are attending the station for a voluntary interview then you can co-ordinate yourself with this firm to ensure that they have a representative meet you at the police station.

If you are choosing your own firm of solicitors and you are wanting the free service it is important to be clear that they offer legal aid. If they do not offer legal aid then you will be required to pay for their attendance at the police station.


Whilst some very expensive firms don’t offer legal aid it does not necessarily mean that they are good.
In some of the major cities whilst this may be the case there could be other reasons why they do not hold a Legal Aid Contract.
In order to be a legal aid solicitor (and thus offer free services) there are a huge amount of hoops the firm must jump through. All of the hoops require investment in staff, training and compliance to ensure that they meet a minimum standard. We feel that questions must be asked if a firm does not hold a Legal Aid Contract.

Even some of the best firms hold the contract. The reason being that it is a way of getting new cases. Whilst police station representation is free to all this is not the case if charged.
By been prepared to attend police stations on legal aid they have a good chance of picking up cases where the accused is charged but not entitled to legal aid.
It therefore makes good business sense to us that even the best firms would invest to obtain the contract in order to pick up the lucrative private work later.

This is the reason lots of questions need to be asked of firms that do not hold Legal Aid Contracts.

If you do not know any specific solicitors then it is important that you request the duty solicitor. It is a very dangerous move to go into interview without representation and in our view a very careless one given the simple fact that it is free.

If you choose the duty solicitor the Police have no say in who that solicitor will be. They will contact the duty solicitor.

In all areas the schedule for duty solicitors are published online. Here is the direct link to the very rota, have a look. Good or bad you will likely find your solicitor in there somewhere : https://drive.google.com/drive/mobile/folders/1vmsZ8irhy78PLI4MYkEEy7PogBRtT0oE?usp=sharing

If you go for the duty solicitor you will get whoever it is on the duty rota for that date and time at that location.

Following the interview that is the service provided and concluded. You are not tied to this solicitors firm going forward. If you were not happy with them then you should start researching solicitors in your area who offer legal aid.

There is no harm in contacting your new chosen firm and giving them the run down on what has happened. They will likely take your details down, probably contact the officer in the case and advise them that they will represent you for any further actions.

HOWEVER, that will be about all that they can do for you.

Between interview and a charging decision there is no legal aid.

If you want a solicitor to do something for you such as make enquiries, make further representation to the police etc in order to try and bring the investigation to a swift end then you need to pay for this service.
Often it is referred to as “Pre Charge Representation”. Not all solicitors are good, or even keen to do it but it is a possible route that can bring about great results.

If you then go on to be re-interviewed legal aid will be available for the re-interview and representation at it.

Again after the re-interview there is no legal aid.

If a decision is then made for you to be charged you then legal aid kicks in again for those who qualify (at this stage it becomes means tested).

Remember to check out our website (www.accused.me.uk). Much of our advice is on there to read through at leisure. If you have any questions or suggestions then please do use the contact us page.