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Your rights on arrest

Please note that UKCIA can accept no responsibility for the accuracy of this information. If you find yourself in trouble with the police seek the advice of a qualified legal practitioner as soon as possible. Please inform us of any mistakes in the following text.
When dealing with the police it is a good idea to be polite and co-operative, they can cause you hassle much easier then you can them. It also worth noting that many of them are sympathetic to cannabis users, so not being confrontational could make all the difference.

In practice you have few enforceable rights against the police: even evidence illegally obtained by them can but used in Court. However the following information may help:

Always Remember:

  1. Don't get drawn into conversations with the police. Even apparently innocent remarks can be used against you. Keeping your mouth shut until you have spoken to a solicitor is often a good idea if you think you are in serious trouble. If the police suspect you have committed any offence, you can be arrested if you refuse to give your name and address, or if the police are not satisfied with the address you have given.

  2. If in doubt do and say nothing until you have contacted a solicitor.
  3. If anything you ask for is refused, ask why and remember the reason given.
  4. As soon as possible make full notes of what has happened and give them to your solicitor. These can be used as evidence in court. If you have been injured go and see a doctor as soon as possible, giving a full explanation of your injuries.

On The Street - If You Are Stopped:

  1. Check police identity: ask to see their warrant card and remember any details. If they are in uniform remember their numbers.
  2. If you are stopped an searched in the street, ask why. The police can stop you in any public place if they suspect you are in possession of "prohibited articles". On the street, the police can only search outer clothing such as coats, gloves etc. If the police suspect that you are in possession of illegal drugs they can take you to a police station for a more thorough search without formally arresting you. police should show evidence of identity before searching you and must keep a record of the search.

If You Are Taken To A Police Station:

  1. Don't rely on any legal advice the police offer you.
  2. Ask if you have been arrested and if so why. Ask to see the custody officer as soon as you arrive at the police station and make sure that the starting time of your detention is correctly recorded. Remember that the reason for your arrest and detention is recorded at the top of the police custody record, as is the need for the police to ask whether you need a solicitor or relative informed. Make sure you know why you are being held. The nature of the possible charges determines your entitlements to rights at the police station.
  3. Ask the custody officer to phone your solicitor or the duty solicitor. Insist that a friend or relative is informed of your arrest. You have the right to have someone informed without delay unless you are being detained in connection with a "serious arrestable offence". If you are being held in connection with a serious arrestable offence, police can delay access to solicitors and relatives in specific circumstances. If they do refuse access ask why and insist that the reason is recorded on your custody sheet. Even if the police are confident that are grounds for refusing access to a solicitor or relatives, they have to allow access before 36 hours has expired.
  4. Ask to be charged or released. Unless you are suspected of a serious offence, you must be charged or released within 24 hours of detention and you have the right to consult a solicitor at any time. Make sure that you request to see a solicitor and the time of the request is recorded by the custody officer. Whatever the police say you should NEVER sign the custody sheet saying that you don't want to see a solicitor.
  5. In order to get bail (released from the police station before going to court) you will probably have to satisfy the police that you have a fixed address.

If Your Home Or Workplace Is To Be Searched:

  1. The police do not need a warrant or your permission to enter your home in order to arrest someone, but in theory they should name the person sought. Searches can sometimes be conducted without a warrant, but in all cases you should ask the police to identify themselves and ask the reason of the search. You are entitled to see a copy of the search warrant.


For information and help in dealing with the police and the criminal courts in the UK contact:

RELEASE
020 7729 9904 (24 hour helpline)
388 Old Street
LONDON EC1V 9LT
(if you need to see them please ring first for an appointment)

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