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How long you can be held in custody

If you're suspected of a crime but have not been charged yet, the police can hold you for up to 12 hours before they have to charge you with a crime or release you.

The police can extend this to a maximum of 24 hours, but only if a senior police officer agrees to this.

You can be held without charge for up to 14 days if you're arrested under the Terrorism Act.

When you can be released

The police can release you while they continue investigating the crime.

You can be arrested more than once for the same offence, but your time in custody cannot last longer than 12 hours. The police can't add 12 hours each time you are arrested for the same thing.

The police will only keep you in police custody when it's necessary – for example if they want to continue questioning you or they think you might commit another crime or hide evidence if released.

Release with conditions

You might be given rules you must stick to on release. This is called 'investigative liberation' and means your freedom will be restricted in some way. For example, the police can tell you not to go to a certain place or speak to certain people.

These conditions cannot last longer than 28 days. You have the right to appeal to a sheriff court if you do not agree with your conditions.

Breaking any condition while on investigative liberation is a criminal offence – you can be arrested for this.
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