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Police Station Representative Accreditation Scheme

The Police Station Representatives Accreditation Scheme (PSRAS) is the means through which candidates with no previous legal knowledge or background, can train to provide advice and assistance to suspects detained at the police station for which payment is claimed from the Legal Aid Agency (LAA).

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Why this kind of work is more important now than ever

In the post-truth era, where poverty and hardship are demonised, advocating for the marginalised is even more important than ever, and the legal profession needs more passionate, fearless individuals to continue to protect our human rights, civil liberties, and social welfare. This type of work pays less than other areas of law, but you will make a decent living once you get going and more importantly, you will have the power to effect meaningful social and political change if that's what you want from your legal career. It depends on what your imperatives are and what interests you.

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How could doing the PSRAS help you along your QWE journey?

You could do this as an employed paralegal at a criminal firm or freelance but you would need a firm to supervise your portfolio. If you are looking to get accredited to make yourself more enticing for future roles, make contact with some local criminal defence firms and see if they will support you in doing the accreditation.

Applying for criminal paralegal roles is the way to go because if they like you, they will probably get you accredited.
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What is the role of a police station advisor?

The role is broadly to: - Attend the police station when you are on call - Liaise with the police, cps, witnesses, and experts - Advise your client throughout their detention - Make representations on your client's behalf

You will attend on behalf of your instructing solicitor and return the matter back to them once the investigations stage is over. The outcome could be a re-bail, charge, or no further action.
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What is PSRAS?

PSRAS is a compulsory qualification for those who provide legal advice at the police station on a legally aided basis. The qualification is open to non-lawyers as well as aspiring lawyers.

There is no question, criminal law firms will snap you up if you are a paralegal who is also PSRAS accredited.
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Have you signed up yet? 

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Why we think aspiring lawyers should get accredited

This scheme is a great way to earn a full-time wage and acquire QWE at the same time. It is also a great alternative or accompaniment to a law apprenticeship because you will already have an added advantage over many potential apprentices/juniors when applying. You will make valuable connections with your clients and other lawyers plus having a good reputation, especially with local firms will give you a huge advantage when applying for roles. You will also have the potential to bring your clients to the organisation, which would almost guarantee you the job!

You will demonstrate: - Commitment and enthusiasm for criminal law - Skills, and knowledge required for such work - A real initiative to independently make a start on your career

Skills and experience you will acquire from PSRAS

Here are some of the skills we think candidates will acquire from going through the accreditation process. This list is not exhaustive and there are many more.

Knowledge

Knowledge of criminal law and procedure

Negotiating

Negotiating with police, cps, and experts

Analysing

Analysing complex evidence and procedure

Advising

Advising clients under pressure

Client care

Addressing client care, ethical and professional conduct issues

Standards

Apply appropriate professional standards

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What's the process?

The PSRAS consists of three assessments; - a written exam - portfolio submission - Critical Incidents Test The assessment process has been designed to ensure prospective PSRs have the necessary level of competence to undertake police station work and that the advice they provide is of a sufficiently high standard.

On completion of the PSRAS assessment process, candidates will become fully accredited police station representatives
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Written exam

This is a two-hour essay type assessment where you must answer 4 out 5 questions.

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You may be eligible for an exemption from the written exam

Exemptions from the written exam are available to:

  • LPC graduates
  • BPTC graduates
  • CILEx who've passed the new level 6 criminal papers

For more information, you will need to contact the two assessment boards directly. The SRA has authorised two providers as assessment organisations:

There are no exemptions from the portfolio submission or CIT

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What is the purpose of the portfolio?
Allows the assessors to check your competence to give advice at police stations Encourages you to consider and reflect upon your performance in the police station Encourages your supervising solicitor to review your competence and to take steps to address any deficiencies

Portfolio submission

The Portfolio summaries nine cases in which you have been involved with both the giving of advice and attendance at an interview between the police and the client, at a police station. The Portfolio consists of three stages, to be completed in two parts in the following chronological order.

Part A Stage One - Two cases observed by your supervising solicitor provide advice to a client in a police station Part A Stage Two - Two cases where you have provided advice to a client in a police station whilst being observed by supervising solicitor Part B - Five cases in which you have provided advice to a client in a police station unsupervised
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What is the purpose of the CIT?
To assess your effectiveness in advising and assisting clients at the police station. The CIT takes the form of a role play assessment under exam conditions.

Critical Incidents Test (CIT)

In order to pass the assessment, you must achieve at least 50% on each of the following criteria, in each scenario. The CIT will be assessed according to the three Cs:

Content - Legal, procedural, and factual content of your responses, including whether you correctly analysed the facts and correctly applied the law to those facts Confidence - The extent to which you act with self-assurance in responding to the problem or issue posed Control - The extent to which you are able to demonstrate appropriate control in the context of the problem or issue raised
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Once you have successfully completed the accreditation process, you will be able to act as the duty representative for the duty solicitor at police stations which means an on-call duty solicitor could ask you to attend the police station on their behalf to advise the client in custody and they would get paid by the LAA. 

Want to know more? 

For more information, please go to the two authorised course providers: