1. When you're arrested

If you’re arrested, you’ll usually be taken to a police station, held in custody in a cell and then questioned.

After you’ve been taken to a police station, 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:

  • get free legal advice
  • tell someone 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 - eg 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

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. However, 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.”

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