Your Rights on Arrest & Police Station Procedure
If you are arrested it is critical to be careful what you say and how you act. Anything you say to a Police Officer can be used to incriminate you and to build a stronger prosecution against you.
On this page we have set out what your rights are when you are arrested and we also give you some simple guidelines to follow to give yourself the best chance of not making the situation any worse than it already is.
Police Officers do make mistakes and not following the correct procedures can be used to help with your defence in some circumstances.
When can the Police arrest you?
The Police can arrest you either if they have a valid arrest warrant, or if certain other circumstances are mer. These are:
- you are in the act of committing certain offences
- the Police have reasonable grounds for suspecting you are committing certain offences
- they have reasonable grounds for suspecting you have committed certain offences
- you are about to commit certain offences
- they have reasonable grounds for suspecting you are about to commit certain offences.
What should happen when you are arrested?
The Police should only use reasonable force to make an arrest and they should inform you that you are under arrest as soon as possible. After the arrest, they should explain why they have arrested you.
The Police must caution you unless it is impractical to do so or unless they cautioned you immediately before they arrested you.
If the Police arrest you somewhere other than at a Police station, they should take you to a Police station as soon as possible. If they arrest you for theft and you were seen taking property but did not have it after a chase, the Police officer can retrace your tracks. This may allow them to recover the property. They should take you to the Police Station once they have recovered the property.
Obtaining legal advice when arrested
If you are arrested you should ask for a Solicitor at the earliest opportunity. We recommend that you say nothing to the Police until you have spoken directly with us. Our 24 hour number is 07850 012 366.
Advice at a Police Station is always free of charge and will be paid for by Legal Aid. This does not depend on your financial circumstances.
Once you have requested legal advice, the Police must not normally question you until your legal representative is present. We strongly advise you not to answer any questions until your solicitor is present.
Importantly, if you initially said you didn’t want legal advice, you can change your mind at any time.
Procedure at the Police Station
The Custody Officer at the Police station inform you why you are being held and explain what your rights are. Your rights are:
- to get free legal advice from a solicitor or other legal representative
- to arrange for someone you know to be told where you are
- obtain medical help if you’re feeling ill - the Police should arrange this
- to see the rules the Police must follow - these are called ‘Codes of Practice’
- to see a written notice telling you about your rights - for example, to get regular breaks for food and to use the toilet
Your right to silence
We strongly advise you not to answer any questions until your solicitor is present and has a chance to advise you on the best way forward.
Although legally you have a right to silence, Courts can take your silence into account when deciding whether you are guilty or innocent.
Fingerprints, photographs and DNA samples
If you have been arrested, the Police have the power to take your fingerprints, photographs and a DNA sample (via mouth swab) without your consent. Other types of sample, called ‘intimate samples’ (blood and urine) can only be taken either with your permission or on the authority of a senior Police officer.
People under the age of 17 on arrest
If you are under 17 years of age and are detained by the Police, an appropriate adult (usually your parent or guardian) should be informed as soon as possible.
The Police should not interview you until your parent is present, unless a delay would mean an immediate risk of harm to someone or serious loss of or damage to property.
Having an appropriate adult present does not affect your right to also having a solicitor present. An appropriate adult is not a substitute for proper legal representation and you should still request a solicitor.
Recording of the interview
Your interview at the Police station will usually be recorded on tape. It is critical that you have a solicitor present for the interview.
If your Interview is not recorded, written notes should be made by the officer present. You should have the opportunity to see these notes and to sign them if you agree they are a fair record of what was said.
When you are charged with an offence you should be given a charge sheet which contains details of the offence you are being charged with, when and where you are due to appear in Court and the conditions of your bail. We can negotiate with the Police or Custody Officer to grant you bail to the Court date.
Once you have been charged you should not usually be asked any further questions unless new information has come to light.
If you are charged with an offence the law states that you should normally be released on bail. In some cases the Police or a Court can refuse bail, such as:
- fear that you would commit further offences
- fear that witnesses or evidence would be interfered with
- fear for your own protection
- fear that you would not attend court
We can make representations to the Police that these fears can be dealt with by imposing certain conditions on your bail, rather than denying bail all together.
If the Police do not release you, you must be brought before a Magistrate as soon as possible. The Magistrate will decide whether you can be released on bail, and if so, what conditions should apply. As an example of a bail condition, you may be required to report to the Police station once a week, or to have someone provide a financial guarantee that you will be present in Court when required.
Bail cannot be given to anyone charged with murder, attempted murder, rape or attempted rape who already has a conviction for one of these offences. Courts also need not grant bail if it appears that the defendant was already on bail when the offence was committed.
Please contact us for more information.