If you or a loved one are due to attend the police station, you should be represented. While a free of charge duty solicitor scheme is available for police station matters, this does not allow any pro-active work to be carried out in advance of the police station attendance. Our specialist team offer a more thorough, pro-active and completely bespoke level of police station representation for clients who feel that their legal cases are too important to risk leaving to Legal Aid.
Our pro-active work in presenting formal representations to the Crown Prosecution Service before clients are charged is resulting in us being able to avoid clients being charged in over 90% of cases where we are instructed pre-charge and our client denies the allegations.
We are the only firm in the country conducting this highly specialist and pro-active work, and are avoiding our clients being charged with serious offences including GBH, fraud and rape of a child.
This page explains some of the police processes and your rights while under police investigation. To discuss police station representation, call our expert team now on 0800 1933 999.
We are both overwhelmed with relief that this matter will go no further.
Both of us wish to express our sincere thanks for your involvement, which we have no doubt led to this decision. You have both been incredibly dedicated and professional, yet still managing to give personal attention and support to us both throughout.
Honestly, we cannot thank you enough for what you have done. We are almost certain that the result would be different if you had not intervened.
What happens when a person is arrested?
Once a person is arrested, they will usually be taken to a police station where they will be held in custody in a cell and then questioned by a police officer. Police station representation is available for all clients, and we offer this specialist service.
What happens after questioning?
Following questioning, you would be either released or remanded into custody pending further investigations (possibly on bail, having to return to the police station at a later date) or charged.
What rights does a person have in custody?
The custody officer at the police station must explain your rights. You have the right to:
- get free legal advice (or specialist private legal advice from a firm such as ourselves)
- tell someone where you are
- have medical help if you’re feeling ill
- see the rules (Codes of Practice) the police must follow
- see a written notice telling you about your rights, i.e. regular breaks for food and to use the toilet. (If English is not your first language, you can ask for a copy of the notice in your own language, or an interpreter to explain the notice)
What happens to a person’s belongings while they are in a cell?
The police will search you and your belongings will be retained by the police custody officer until you are released (unless they form part of an investigation).
What responsibilities do the police have for people who are under 18, or vulnerable?
If the police arrest a person under 18 years of age, or a vulnerable adult, they must try to contact the parent, guardian or carer.
In addition, they must also arrange for an ‘appropriate adult’ to attend the station to help you and be present whilst questioning and searching takes place.
An ‘appropriate adult’ can be one of the following:
- your parent, guardian or carer
- a social worker
- another family member or friend aged 18 or over
- a volunteer aged 18 or over
‘Appropriate adult’ services for England and Wales are provided by The National Appropriate Adult Network.
What rights does a person have when being questioned by the police?
As the arrest has taken place as a result of the police believing you have committed a crime, they may question you. This interview process will be recorded.
You do not have to answer any of the questions but there may be consequences if you refuse to answer questions.
The police must read the following caution, which explains this:
“You do not have to say anything. But, it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence.”
How long can a person be held in custody?
A person can be held for up to 24 hours before the police have to either charge them with a crime, or release them.
The police can, however, apply to hold a person for up to 36 or 96 hours if a person is suspected of a serious crime, i.e. murder.
If arrested under the Terrorism Act, then a person can be held for up to 14 days.
When can a person be released on bail?
A person can be released on police bail if there is not sufficient evidence to charge with a crime.
While the police do not have to release a person on police bail, they would need to return to the station, when asked, to answer further questions.
A person can be released on conditional bail if charged and the police believe you may:
- commit another offence
- fail to turn up at court
- intimidate other witnesses
- obstruct the course of justice
This allows the police to limit a person’s freedom, i.e. by imposing a curfew if the offence committed was at night.
What rights do the police have to take fingerprints, photographs and samples?
The police do have the right to take photographs of you.
In addition, they can take fingerprints and a DNA sample (i.e. from a head hair root or mouth swab) as well as swab the skin surface of hands and arms.
The police do not need permission to do this.
However, the police do need your permission (as well as the authorisation of a senior police officer) to take samples of bodily fluids (such as blood or urine), or to take dental impressions.
Blood and urine samples relating to drink or drug driving are an exception to the above.
The police store information relating to fingerprints and samples on a secure database.
A person can check what information relating to them is held on the police database by contacting their local police station.
To have personal information removed from the police database, a person would need to write to the police authority in their local area.
Please note: information will only be removed from the database if (1) the offence no longer exists or (2) anything in the police process was unlawful.
You should contact us on 01623 600645 for free legal advice if you are considering applying to have information removed from the police database.
Can a person access legal advice at the police station?
Yes. Everyone had the right to police station representation if questioned at a police station.
The police must tell you about your right to free legal advice after you have been arrested and before you are questioned in the police station.
- ask for the police station’s ‘duty solicitor’ – they’re available 24 hours a day and independent of the police
- tell the police you would like legal advice – the police will contact the Defence Solicitor Call Centre (DSCC)
- ask the police to contact a specific solicitor i.e. your own one
You may be offered legal advice over the phone instead of face-to-face via a duty solicitor if you’re suspected of having committed a less serious offence, i.e. being disorderly.
The advice is free and independent of the police.
Private specialist police station representation is available from Forrest Williams. We do not offer free police station representation.
Can the police question a person without legal advice in place?
If a person asks for legal advice, the police must wait until the legal advice has been received before asking questions. There are some exceptions to this rule, however.
In serious cases, the police can make a person wait for legal advice but this needs the authorisation of a senior officer.
The limit of how long a person can be made to wait before receiving legal advice is 36 hours after arrival at the police station (48 hours for suspected terrorism).
How can a person complain about their treatment by the police?
If you are not happy about the way in which you were dealt with by the police, you should initially contact the police force you wish to complain about.
Police forces have to refer certain types of complaints to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).