Guide

Being arrested: your rights

Last updated: 25 January 2018

When you're arrested

If you're arrested, you'll usually be taken to a police station, held in custody and – if you're not charged with a crime – you may be questioned.

After you've been held at the police station and questioned, you may be released or charged with a crime.

Your rights in custody

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

  • know why the police are keeping you at the police station
  • a consultation with a solicitor at any time
  • ask for someone to be told where you are – your rights are different if you're under 18 or a vulnerable adult
  • an interpreter if you don't speak or understand English
  • help with communication – for example, if you're deaf or find it hard to understand what's happening
  • medical help if you're feeling ill
  • see a written notice (called a letter of rights) telling you about your rights, such as regular breaks for food and to use the toilet – you can ask for the letter in your language or in an easy to read format (the police can read this to you if you have difficulty reading)

Your rights when being questioned

The police may question you about the crime you're suspected of. Anything you say will be written down or recorded, and could be used as evidence at a trial if your case goes to court.

When you're questioned, you:

  • have the right not to speak (known as the 'right to remain silent')
  • don't have to answer any questions the police ask you
  • must tell the police your name, address, date and place of birth and nationality

You have the right to a solicitor being in the room while the police question you.

If you're not British

The police should contact your High Commission, Embassy or Consulate to tell them where you are and why you're in the police station. Someone can visit you in private and arrange for a solicitor to see you.

Being arrested: your rights
When you're arrested