Coronavirus protection 'concerns' for lawyers and detainees

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image copyrightJaggery | Geograph
image captionCardiff Bay Police Station is Cardiff's divisional headquarters and has 60 cells

Lawyers have written to Wales' largest police force with "grave concerns" of "unsatisfactory" coronavirus protection measures for solicitors and detainees.

The letter to South Wales Police chief constable Matt Jukes claims there is no social distancing measures and enhanced cleaning measures at the force's biggest police station in Cardiff Bay.

The letter said Covid-19 measures at the station were "wholly inadequate".

The force said the safety of all people using its stations was a priority.

Social distancing means people must stay more than 2m (6ft 6in) apart from others.

The letter, signed by 21 law firms and independent representatives, highlights questions raised about social distancing measures and enhanced cleaning.

"The response from custody staff is that there are none," says the letter.

The professionals claim there has been a " wholly inadequate" response at Cardiff Bay Police Station to the duty of care to legal representatives, visitors and those under arrest.

Lawyers also claim they have been told alternative arrangements cannot be made to conduct consultations and interviews at a two-metre distance.

"That is simply not the case and is not satisfactory," they argue in the letter.

Among the changes, the lawyers want better cleaning, access to glass-partitioned rooms and larger rooms where social distancing can be maintained.

Solicitors are also calling for body cameras to allow interviews to be recorded at a distance, allowing interviews by video conferencing or telephone and the provision of protective equipment.

image copyrightHutton's Law
image captionThe letter has been co-ordinated and sent by Sarah Grace of Hutton's Law

"No-one wants to compromise an individual's right to legal advice," said the letter.

"But we are all under a legal and moral obligation to obey the prime minister's direction that we practise social distancing where we can.

"It is not hyperbole to say that people are deeply concerned about attending the police station and that very little is being done by South Wales Police to ally those fears."

The lawyers also have concerns about coronavirus protection measures at South Wales Police's station in Bridgend.

South Wales Police said all parts of its custody suites are cleaned thoroughly and, where necessary, PPE is provided.

The force said all staff were updated with the latest official advice on a daily basis and social distancing was practised "as much as practicable in the working environment.

"Other precautions and controls are taken as appropriate in line with professional medical advice," the statement added.

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