Police Station Representatives Accreditation Scheme (PSRAS) Overview
This scheme deals with the accreditation of those representatives who advise suspects at the police station. Most firms of solicitors who undertake criminal legal aid work use accredited representatives to advise and assist clients at police stations. In order to claim remuneration from the Legal Aid Fund, the representative must be accredited or be registered with the Legal Services Commission (LSC) as a probationary representative. The LSC is responsible for administering the Legal Aid Fund.
This scheme also applies to solicitors who did not register with the Legal Services Commission prior to the 1st November 2006. It also applies to solicitors who registered with the Legal Services Commission prior to the 1st November 2005. There are transitional arrangements in respect of solicitors who registered with the Legal Services Commission between 1st November 2005 and 1st November 2006. Further information can be found on the Law Society’s website or contact us for further information.
The scheme tests the representative’s knowledge and understanding of criminal law and procedure, relevant immigration law and procedure, the common crimes and the rules of evidence. The scheme also tests the representative’s practical understanding of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) and the Codes of Practice under PACE. A probationary representative 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 representative should be able to communicate, negotiate, interview and advise successfully.
There are three assessment elements under the scheme. All three must be successfully completed. These are the written examination, the portfolio of cases and the Critical Incidents Test (CIT). Some people are exempt from sitting the written examination.
An individual can remain registered with the LSC for up to one year as a probationary representative. Within six months of registration with the LSC, one assessment element must be passed. All assessment elements must be passed within one year of registration with the LSC. Failure to achieve this, results in the representative being suspended by the LSC from undertaking legally aided work at the police station.