The Use of Live Links for Police Detention/Interviews

Closed 1 Jun 2020

Opened 20 Apr 2020

Overview

Delivery of a faster, fairer justice system is a core aim of the Department and work to provide an efficient and effective justice system is a key priority.  The use of technology is important in that work and the Department is keen to facilitate the use of live links in as wide a range of circumstances as is appropriate.

To date, the law on the use of live links in Northern Ireland has centred on Part 3 of the Criminal Justice (Northern Ireland) Order 2004 and Articles 79 to 83 of the Criminal Justice (Northern Ireland) Order 2008.  Part 2 of the Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 and Part 7 of the Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 2015 added to those powers. All four pieces of legislation have extended the use of live links across a range of functions. Live links can now be used in courts for preliminary hearings; certain sentencing and appeal hearings; for the giving of evidence by vulnerable witnesses, defendants and appellants; and between courts and hospitals in certain types of case.  The prisons and courts regularly use live links for remand hearings.

The Department now wishes to take views on further proposals to amend PACE covering the extension of police detention, court extension of police detention and interviews with suspects.

 

Why We Are Consulting

The purpose of this consultation is to seek the views of key stakeholders and other interested parties regarding proposals to amend the Police and Criminal Evidence (Northern Ireland) Order 1989 (PACE).  The proposed amendments will enable video-conferencing technology referred to as ‘live links’ to be used by police for a number of custody functions.  These functions include the extension of detention by both police and the courts, and police interviews with a suspect.  The Department is also proposing to use this legislative opportunity to make some minor amendments within PACE to replace any references to video-conferencing with live link.   This will ensure the continuity of terminology throughout PACE.

All of the proposed functions in relation to the use of live links are already available to police forces in England and Wales by virtue of the Policing and Crime Act 2017.   The Department is keen to facilitate similar arrangements in Northern Ireland. The Department would welcome your views on these proposals.

What Happens Next

The views provided in response to this consultation will inform government regarding proposals to amend the Police and Criminal Evidence (Northern Ireland) Order 1989 (PACE) to allow the use of live link technology for extension of detention by police and the courts, and police interviews with suspects.

Audiences

  • All stakeholders

Interests

  • Policing