I'd be interested in members' responses to what I will describe as a hypothetical situation as follows: (names are fictitious, if it matters.)
Mary is a counsellor at a community centre. The community centre also hosts a number of other programmes, including Legal Aid.
Amongst Mary's appointments is Bill. He comes in, sits down, and when Mary asks how she can help, says "I want to hand myself in for a hit and run, but want a solicitor with me when I do it".
A couple of brief questions from Mary determine that Bill has been under the impression that his appointment was with a Legal Aid solicitor. Either he has not made his requirements clear to the receptionist, or the receptionist has made a mistake in the bookings.
Whichever, Mary is now in possession of information about a crime.
She explains the appointment error and advises him of the Legal Aid session times. She suggests he could go to the police station or the court house to ask for the duty solicitor. He does not want to do either of these.
His appearance and demeanour suggest he is either very unwell, extremely stressed (well, of course!) or somewhat "out of it" on some substance.
He says he feels very sick, and then adds that it's from the stress of worrying about what to do.
The community centre has a mandatory reporting policy if safety, especially child safety, is involved, but as this event apparently occurred some time ago, this doesn't seem to be an issue for now.
Mary has checked with Bill that he is not driving, as she considers he is in no state to drive.
She contacts the community centre's solicitor to see if she can send Bill there for legal aid advice. Yes, she can.
She tells Bill where he can go, but feels it is very unlikely that he will actually follow up on this information.
So the question is: does Mary have an ethical obligation to do any or all of the following:
(a) maintain complete client confidentiality on the basis that Bill told her what he did in the belief that he was speaking to a solicitor?
(b) contact the police with the information on the basis that she has information about a crime?
(c) consider she has fulfilled her obligations in both respects by doing neither of the above and essentially passing the decision on to the Legal Aid solicitor who also acts as solicitor for the Community Centre?
I'd very much appreciate members' reactions to this situation.