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. This service provides representation during the interview – nothing before, or after.
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 involves us undertaking a full investigation before the police interview. We will take a full statement from you, identify and speak to witnesses, and secure evidence. We will liaise with the officer in the case before the interview, usually obtaining at least a summary disclosure of the evidence against you. This means we attend the interview fully prepared and able to advise you on the best way forward; namely whether you should answer questions, provide a prepared statement, or go no comment.
If appropriate, we’ll prepare and submit formal written representations following your interview. Those representations have to be taken into consideration by the Crown Prosecution Service when they decide whether to charge you or take no further action.
For many people, these representations are crucial. A police interview is naturally directed by the police in terms of the topics they want to cover and the way they phrase questions. Similarly, if they speak to your potential defence witnesses, they will control the questions that are asked. Defence representations at such an early stage are the best way of presenting your case before it gets to court and, by doing this, we are able to avoid clients being charged in over 90% of cases where we are instructed pre-charge by a client who denies the allegations.
We are the very first 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.
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 01623 397200, just as Mr D did.
Mr D found himself accused of indecent exposure. Our pro-active approach meant that not only did he deny the allegations, but we uncovered the exact scenario that had actually happened and were able to present it to the Crown Prosecution Service with a file of evidence we had gathered. Mr D was delighted to find that no further action would be taken against him.
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, but we do need to hold funds on account before we can attend. For this reason, you should instruct us before you are arrested wherever possible.
What happens after questioning?
Following questioning, you will be either released or remanded on bail or into custody pending further investigations, or charged.
It is common for the police to initially remand a person on bail, meaning you will have a bail appointment where you have to return to the police station. Usually, progress in the case has not been made by this bail appointment and so many people are now being released under investigation, which allows the police to continue their investigation without the constraints of the time limits that apply to bail periods.
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 (unless they have a direct link to the case, in which case they will not be able to fulfil this role)
- a social worker
- another family member or friend aged 18 or over (unless they have a direct link to the case, in which case they will not be able to fulfil this role)
- 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, if you refuse to provide a sample then you will be charged with an offence.
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 397 200 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 has 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 existing solicitor if you have 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).
Voluntary Attendance at the Police Station.
Sometimes the police will invite you into the police station for an interview rather than arrest you. If you attend for a voluntary interview it is still important that you are represented. Again you can have a legal aid lawyer provide this for free, however if you want a more personal and proactive approach then we can offer that for a fixed fee charge.
We would speak to the police to find out the nature of the allegation and as much detail as possible. We will then take a statement from you ready for the interview. We will then attend the interview and be by your side throughout.
We can cover any police station in England and Wales. We can deal with the initial preparations by phone or if you prefer to see us in person we can see you in Nottingham, Birmingham or London, by appointment only.