Being arrested: your rights
4. Legal advice at the police station
Your right to free legal advice
You have the right to free legal advice (legal aid) if you’re questioned at a police station. You can change your mind later if you turn it down.
How you can get free legal advice
You must be told about your right to free legal advice after you’re arrested and before you’re questioned at a police station. You can:
- ask for the police station’s ‘duty solicitor’ - they’re available 24 hours a day and independent of the police
- tell the police you would like legal advice - the police will contact the Defence Solicitor Call Centre (DSCC)
- ask the police to contact a solicitor, eg your own one
You may be offered legal advice over the phone instead of a duty solicitor if you’re suspected of having committed a less serious offence, eg being disorderly. The advice is free and independent of the police.
Being questioned without legal advice
Once you’ve asked for legal advice, the police can’t question you until you’ve got it - with some exceptions.
The police can make you wait for legal advice in serious cases, but only if a senior officer agrees.
The longest you can be made to wait before getting legal advice is 36 hours after arriving at the police station (or 48 hours for suspected terrorism).
You have the right to free legal advice if you are questioned by the police.