Police Station Solicitors

The majority of all criminal proceedings begin with being arrested and taken into custody at the nearest police station. To arrest you the police need reasonable grounds to suspect you’re involved in a crime for which your arrest is necessary. The police have powers to arrest you anywhere and at any time, including on the street, at home or at work.

The police arrest procedure

If you’re arrested the police must:

  • identify themselves as the police,
  • tell you that you’re being arrested,
  • tell you what crime they think you’ve committed,
  • explain why it’s necessary to arrest you,
  • explain to you that you’re not free to leave.

If you’re under 17 the police should only arrest you at school if it’s unavoidable, and they must inform your head teacher and parents or guardian.


Police powers to use reasonable force

If you try to escape or become violent, the police can use ‘reasonable force’, i.e. holding you down so you can’t run off.

You can also be handcuffed.

The police do have powers to search you when you’re arrested.


Your rights in custody

The custody officer at the police station must explain your rights. You have the right to:

  • get free and independent legal advice,
  • tell someone like a family member where you are,
  • have medical help if you’re feeling ill,
  • see the rules the police must follow (‘Codes of Practice’),
  • see a written notice telling you about your rights, e.g. regular breaks for food and to use the toilet (you can ask for a notice in your language) or an interpreter to explain the notice.

You’ll be searched and your possessions will be kept by the police custody officer while you’re in the cell.


Young people under 18 and vulnerable adults

The police must try to contact your parent, guardian or carer if you’re under 18 or a vulnerable adult.

They must also find an ‘appropriate adult’ to come to the station to help you and be present during questioning and searching. An appropriate adult can be:

  • your parent, guardian or carer,
  • a social worker,
  • another family member or friend aged 18 or over,
  • a volunteer aged 18 or over.