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What rights do I have once I reach the police station?

Being Held At A Police Station

Andrew Moxon (Solicitor) gives expert video advice on: How long can the police hold me in police custody?; Am I allowed someone with me when I am questioned?; If I can't afford a solicitor, what do I do? and more...

What rights do I have once I reach the police station?

Once you get to the police station you'll be told that you have three main rights. The first right is the freedom to consult a solicitor free of charge, privately, at any time while you are held at the police station. The second right is that you're entitled to notify someone that you've been arrested. The third right is that you're entitled to consult a copy of the codes and practice, which are the rules and regulations that govern the way that police treat detainees held in a police station.

What is custody?

Custody is the term that is used to define the legal state you are in once you have been detained by the police. Generally, being in custody once you have been arrested describes being held in the police station.

How long can the police hold me in police custody?

The police can hold you for up to 24 hours without charge in police custody. This length of time can be extended for up to 12 hours by the police themselves in certain circumstances. This custody period can also be extended by the courts, in certain circumstances, for up to a maximum of 96 hours. However, in terrorism cases, the courts can authorise an extension of up to 28 days in police custody.

Am I allowed someone with me when I am questioned?

The only time you are allowed someone with you when you are questioned is if you are aged 16 or under, in which case you will need an appropriate adult with you when you are questioned. That is someone who is themselves over the age of 18; normally a parent or guardian. The other way you may need an adult with you when you're questioned is if you're deemed to be mentally vulnerable, and that would normally be ruled by a police doctor.

Everyone is allowed free and independent legal advice and assistance while being held at the police station. It doesn't matter whether you are rich or poor, you are entitled to that free legal advice.

If I can't afford a solicitor, what do I do?

Any advice and assistance given by a solicitor in the police station is free of charge. It doesn't matter whether you're poor or rich, you're entitled to a free solicitor. Therefore, you should avail yourself of that right, and when you are arrested and taken to the police station, you should always ask to speak to a solicitor. If you do not have your own solicitor, then the police will provide you with a duty solicitor. The duty solicitor is free of charge and independent of the police.

Do I have to answer questions in the police station?

You do not have to answer questions in the police station. When you are arrested, when you are interviewed, and when you are charged, you will be given a caution. The caution says that you do not have to say anything. That means that you do not have to answer the police questions; this is your right of silence while being held. However, they will tell you that it may harm your defence if you do not mention, when questioned, something which you later rely on in court. Basically, that means that if you do refuse to answer the police questions while held at the police station, and later the matter goes to court, the court can draw adverse inferences or conclusions from your silence.

Are the police allowed to take DNA samples, my fingerprints and photo?

On arrest, the police are entitled to take your fingerprints, photograph, and a DNA sample if you're been arrested for a recordable offence. A recordable offence is defined as any imprisonable offence, and also some non-imprisonable offences. Examples of an imprisonable offence would offences such as for example murder, going all the way down to offences such as theft, or drink driving. Therefore imprisonable offences cover the vast majority of offences in this country, and the police can take fingerprints, photos and DNA samples of the vast majority of criminals.

What happens to my DNA sample, fingerprints and photograph if I am not charged?

Even if you are not charged with an offence the police are still entitled to retain your DNA sample, your photograph and your fingerprints taken while you were held at a police station. These can be kept and they can be used by the police at a later date. In essence, the police will add your DNA, photograph and fingerprints to database that they have.

If I am arrested and released with no charge, will I have a criminal record?

If you are arrested and released without charge, you will not have a criminal record.