How are my rights protected in custody?

How is a suspect protected in the police station?

The police and criminal evidence Act 1984, contains certain provisions that protect suspects that are held in a police station for interview.  

These safeguards have been put in place to reduce the number of miscarriages of justice.

The Caution

Under code C, a person must normally be cautioned on arrest. Any person who is suspected of being involved in criminal activity must be caution before being asked any questions concerning their involvement or suspected involvement in the offence in question.  

The caution is as follows: 

‘You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned anything which you later wish to rely on in court. Anything that you do say may be given in evidence’.

Tape – recording

Section 60 of PACE, states that an interview in a police station must be tape recorded.  This was introduced by PACE, to safeguard a potential suspect from being threatened into saying something false, from being forced into a false confession or confessions being made up by the police.

The right to inform someone of your detention

Section 56 of PACE provides that once a suspect is taken to a police station, they are entitled to let someone know of their detention. This could be anyone such as a relative or friend. The person chosen by the detainee to be informed of their arrest must be told that the detainee has been arrested and where they are being held.  

This right may be suspended if the suspect has been arrested in connection with an indictable offence and informing an outside person may lead to interference with evidence relating to the offence, other suspects being informed of the arrest causing them to flee, interference with recovering evidence and / or causing injury or interference to witnesses.

The right to consult a legal advisor or have a legal representative present

Under section 58 of PACE, a person held in custody has the legal right to consult a legal representative free of charge whilst being detained in the police station. Since 1995, the legal representative can be either a qualified legal worker, such as a solicitor, or an accredited representative.  
 

The right to seek a legal advisor may be suspended for up to 36hours under the same circumstances as the right to inform an outside person of your detention.

How does someone become an ‘Accredited representative’

A person can become an accredited representative by registering with the legal services commission. They must have a signed document from a solicitor saying that they are suitable to become an accredited representative, and are capable of undertaking the duties linked to such a title. 

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For more information on:

  • An appropriate adult present at the police station
  • The treatment of suspects in police detention
  • The recording of the interview
  • The ability to refuse evidence