Legal rights when held in police custody, explained

When you are arrested for criminal activity in the UK, you will likely be taken to a police station where you can legally be detained for up to 24 hours, assuming that you have not been arrested for any acts associated with terrorism. If this is the case, this detainment can be extended to 96 hours and then indefinitely. You can be held in a cell and questioned by the police when you are detained, and it’s also worth noting that in England, you can be released on bail or charged with a crime.

This is all very daunting, and for the majority of people who have been arrested, it can feel as if the world is against them. However, even when you are detained in police custody, you have rights, which the police will need to adhere to. Some of these rights will be explained in this article.

Free legal advice

Everyone who is arrested has the right to obtain free legal advice. If you have been arrested for a criminal act, you will need to contact a criminal solicitor who can come to the police station and discuss your case with you as well as liaise with the police. They can also advise you on which steps to take and sit in with you during police interviews. In many instances, it is unwise to attend a police interview without having a legal representative with you.

One phone call

You are entitled to one phone call when you have been detained, or you can have the police officers make the phone call for you. The call will usually be made to a member of your family, your spouse or friend to inform them that you have been arrested and would occur within the first two hours of you being detained in police custody.

Medical issues attended to

If you are not feeling well, the police need to have your medical needs met, which will usually be done by a first aider at the station. If you are injured, they may have to call in a nurse or doctor. If you are experiencing more complex symptoms, or if you are severely injured, you may be transported to a hospital under police escort to ensure that you are getting the medical attention that you require.

Vulnerable adults and those under 18

If you are deemed to be a vulnerable adult or are under 18 years old, the police will need to contact your carer or parent to come to the police station and stay with you whilst you are being searched or questioned. This person may also be a care coordinator or social worker if you currently have one.

Man getting handcuffedBeing silent

It is perfectly legal and within your rights to stay silent during a police interview. You do not have to reveal any information, even if your legal representative advises you to. But note that silence is not always golden, and further down the road, this can be held against you.

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