Police Station Qualification Overview
This scheme deals with the accreditation of solicitors who advise suspects at the police station. The PSQ is also one element of the Law Society’s Criminal Litigation Accreditation Scheme for duty solicitors.
From the 1st November 2006, the requirement that all solicitors must undertake the Police Station Qualification has altered. The Legal Services Commission now requires that solicitors undertake the Police Station Representatives Accreditation Scheme. Further information is set out below.
The scheme tests the solicitor’s knowledge and understanding of criminal law and procedure, relevant immigration law and procedure and the rules of evidence. The scheme also tests the solicitor’s practical understanding of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) and the Codes of Practice under PACE. A solicitor must also exhibit knowledge of the role of defending the client in the police station. Skills are also tested as to be an effective adviser, the solicitor should be able to communicate, negotiate, interview and advise successfully. Full details of the standards of competence required can be found on the Law Society website.
There are two assessment elements under the scheme. Both must be successfully completed. These are the portfolio of cases and the Critical Incidents Test (CIT).
Since the 1st November 2005, in order to claim remuneration from the Legal Aid Fund, solicitors have had to hold the Police Station Qualification (PSQ) or be registered with an Assessment Organisation. The regulations required that all solicitors undertaking legal aid work at the police station must have obtained the PSQ by the 1st November 2006.
Since the 1st November 2006, transitional provisions have been put in place allowing solicitors who registered with the Legal Services Commission before the 1st November 2006 twelve months to complete the PSQ.
Solicitors who have not yet registered with the Legal Services Commission are now advised to undertake the Police Station Representatives Accreditation Scheme. This includes the submission of a Part A portfolio of cases and supervision by an appropriately qualified solicitor.