If you or someone you know is arrested, it can often be confusing and upsetting for those involved, especially as many people aren’t aware of what happens when someone is arrested and taken to a police station. This is short guide which will hopefully help answer some of those questions.
The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) regulates police powers and protects the rights of members of the public.
Why have I been arrested?
Under section 24 of PACE the police have the power to arrest someone without a warrant where there are reasonable grounds to suspect the commission of an offence and reasonable grounds to believe that it is necessary to arrest for a prompt and effective investigation.
The police will usually arrest someone for the purpose of questioning them about the allegation in a recorded interview.
However, just because someone has been arrested, it does not mean that they are guilty of committing an offence.
What happens when I am arrested?
You will be taken to a police station where a custody officer will be provided with details from the arresting officer and will authorise your detention if they are satisfied your arrest was necessary. You will be asked questions about your physical and mental health in order to determine whether you have any medical problems or special needs that need to be looked after whilst in custody and if needed, a medical professional will assess whether you are fit to be interviewed.
You will be searched for illegal or unauthorised items, as well as possible evidence. Your property or clothes may be taken and seized as evidence. If your clothes are seized, you will be provided with clean clothing.
You will be informed of your rights, which you may use at any time whilst in custody:
- The right to have someone told of your arrest
- The right to free and independent legal advice
- The right to consult the codes of practice
You will be asked whether you require legal advice from a solicitor. This legal advice is independent of the police and free of charge. You may feel that as you haven’t done anything wrong, you do not need legal advice. Or you may think that by asking for a solicitor you are more likely to appear guilty, but this is not the case.
Under the pressure of an interview, detainees can make mistakes and say something that can be misinterpreted. Everything you say to the police can be used as evidence against you.
Regardless of the circumstances, it is always wise to request a solicitor – if only to help and guide you through the police station process.
If you do not wish to use your usual solicitor, or do not have a usual solicitor, you can request to use Hodge Jones and Allen Solicitors on 08082768226. Once we are informed, we will call the police station and have a brief talk with you.
How long can I be kept at the police station?
The police can only keep you in custody if they believe that your detention is necessary to either secure or preserve evidence. For example, obtaining CCTV or taking witness statements, or to question you in order to obtain evidence.
The police continually monitor that your detention remains necessary. The first detention review must be within 6 hours of the relevant time – the time at which your detention was authorised – and then every 9 hours thereafter.
Generally, the police can hold you for a maximum of 24 hours after the relevant time.
However, this can be extended to 36 hours by a superintendent if it is an either way or indictable only offence, and they have reasonable grounds to believe it necessary.
If the police need further time after this extension, they must apply to the magistrate’s court to hold you for up to a total of 96 hours. However, this is only likely to happen in the most complex and serious cases, in which they cannot justify bailing you to return to the police station at a later date.
Once the police are ready to interview they will contact the solicitor, who will attend the police station. The solicitor will receive ‘pre-interview disclosure’, i.e the reasons for your arrest and details of the offence. They will then ask the police questions about the allegation to determine what evidence they have against you.
You will then be able to have a private and confidential discussion with your solicitor. They will advise you on the law, possible defences and the strength of the evidence against you. They will then ask you for your version of events and they will explain the options available to you during the interview:
- To give a full comment interview, where you answer all of the questions asked of you
- To give a no comment interview, during which you answer ‘no comment’ to the questions asked of you
- To prepare a written statement and then answer ‘no comment’ to the police’s questions.
They will advise you which they believe is the best option, however you do not have to follow this advice. Once you feel satisfied that you have had enough time to speak to your solicitor, you will then be interviewed
Your solicitor’s role during the interview is to ensure that it is conducted fairly and lawfully, and to protect and advance your legal rights.
The purpose of the interview is to gather evidence by questioning you and as such the interview will be recorded. The police will start the recording, caution you as below and question you.
You have the right to remain silent, but it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned, something which you later rely on in curt. Anything you do say may be given in evidence.
Your solicitor will be present during the interview and you have the right to pause the interview at any time if you require further legal advice.
After the interview
Once the interview is finished, you will have the chance to discuss anything further with your solicitor. The police will then take you back to your cell whilst a decision about what happens next is made.
The possible outcomes of the interview are:
- No further action is taken against you
- You are ‘released under investigation’ whilst the police continue their investigation
- You are released on bail to return to the police station at a later date
- You are charged and remanded in custody to appear at court the next day
- You are charged and bailed to attend court at a later date
- The police administer a caution, fixed penalty notice or community resolution
Your liberty and good character are of the utmost importance. If you are arrested, please make sure you call our specialist Criminal Defence Solicitors to get the best possible legal advice 24/7, free of charge on 08082768226.