For information and help in dealing with the Police, the courts
or drug problems, contact:
Release Legal Helpline
020 7749 4034
10-6 Monday to Friday
You have the right to be treated fairly and with respect by
You do not have to say anything to the police. BUT if you are later charged with a crime and you have not mentioned, when questioned, something that you later rely on in court, then this may be taken into account when deciding if you are guilty.
There may be good reasons why you do not wish to say anything to the police, and you should not be intimidated into answering questions. Get a solicitor down to see you in the police station as soon as possible.
There may be times when if you give an innocent explanation for what rou have done, the police may leave you alone.
When the police get it wrong
If you want to challenge anything the police have done then get the names and addresses of any witnesses, make a written record as soon as possible after the event. It should be witnessed, dated and signed. If you are injured, or property is damaged, then take photographs or video recordings as soon as possible and have physical injuries medicalLy examined.
If you have been treated unfairly then complain to a civil liberTies group such as Release or contact a solicitor about possible legal action.
On the street
If you are stopped by the police:
There are other situations where you can be stopped and searched, for example:
If police fear there might be serious violence in a particular area they can stop and search anyone in that area for up to 24 hours. In these circumstances the police do not need co have a reasonable suspicion that you are carrying a weapon or committing a crime. This very wide power can be used at raves, demonstrations etc.
You run the risk of both physical injury and serious criminal charges if you physically resist a search. If it is an unlawful search you should take action afterwards by using the law.
In a police station
You always have the right:
You also have the right (but they can in rare situations be delayed):
Do not panic. You cannot be locked up indefinitely. The police sometimes keep you isolated and waiting in the cell to 'soften you up'. Above all else, try to keep calm. The police can only keep you for a certain period of time - normally a maximum of 24 hours (36 hours for a serious arrestable offence).
Make sure the correct time for your arrest is on the custody record.
Make sure you know why you have been arrested.
Insist on seeing a solicitor (you might have to wait, but it's always free). Ask them to be present when you are interviewed. Do not be put off seeing a soticitor by the police. It is your right, and it's free.
If you ask for anything and it is refused make sure this is written down on the custody record.
Search of your home
The police can search premises with the consent of the occupier.