What are your rights when arrested?

When someone is arrested in the UK, there are certain rights that need to be upheld. You’ll be taken to a police station and details will be taken. You may have to undergo a search and your possessions will be kept by the police custody officer while you’re in the cell. You will then be taken to a cell under custody until questioning takes place.

  • Regardless of the crime you are accused of, you will have your rights read out to you. These will include:
  • free legal advice
  • telling someone where you are
  • receiving medical help if you’re feeling ill
  • seeing the rules the police must follow (‘Codes of Practice’)
  • seeing 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

Vulnerable adults or individuals under the age of 18

For vulnerable adults or individuals under the age of 18, every effort will be made to contact your parent, guardian or carer.

An ‘appropriate adult’ has to be sourced 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
  •      The National Appropriate Adult Network provides appropriate adult services in England and Wales.

Your rights when being questioned

The police may question you about the crime you’re suspected of – this will be recorded. You don’t have to answer the questions but there could be consequences if you don’t. The police must explain this to you by reading you the police caution:

“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.”

What happens if your legal rights are not observed?

If you feel your rights have not been observed during your period of arrest, you shouldn’t suffer in silence. Speak to a specialist to get advice on your treatment. Speak to one of our police complaints solicitors by contacting us immediately.