Police Station Interviews

 Detention at the police station

Once a person has been arrested and taken to the police station they are known as the detainee.

At the police station the detainee must be told their rights by the custody officer. These are:

  • The right to have someone informed of their arrest
  • Being informed that independent legal advice is available at no cost
  • Being allowed to privately consult with a solicitor
  • Being allowed to consult and view the Code of Practice
  • The right to one telephone call to inform somebody of your arrest
  • The right to a break every 8 hours

For most common offences the police may only detain a person for a maximum of 24 hours (the Criminal Justice Bill going through Parliament in 2003 has provision for this to be changed to 36 hours in all cases)

If the detainee is not then charged with an offence, the police must release this person.

For more serious arrestable offences the police may detain the person for an initial period of 36 hours and after this they may then apply to the Magistrates’ Court for permission to detain the person for up to 96 hours.


A detained person may be interviewed by the police and in most cases this is what will happen. Your lawyer can be there if you wish and you may take regular breaks.

Before the interview starts the detainee should be cautioned and it must be pointed out that they do not have to say anything but that it may harm their defence if they do not mention something which they later rely on in court.

The police will explain to you that speaking to them is entirely voluntary and if you do not wish to say anything at all then you may exercise this right. If you do decide to talk to the police, everything you say will be played to the court if you choose to plead not guilty to the charge and it goes to a trial.

The Runciman Report recommended remaining the right to silence, the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 allows adverse interferences to be made if the defendant does not mention a fact which they later raise at their trail.

Usually two police officers will be present for the interview; they will both ask you questions and write notes.

The interview will be tape-recorded to protect the police and yourself from any claims that you have been made to say things that you did not wish to or things that were untrue – this is known as being “verballed”.

Interviews are often time consuming and take quite a long time. The main purpose of a police interview is to demonstrate either your guilt or your innocence.

Fingerprints and other samples may also be taken. These may be taken without your consent and include:

  • Saliva
  • Photos
  • Oral swabs
  • Footwear impressions

In some cases, other samples can be requested but these do require your written consent and the inspector’s consent.

Examples include:

  • Urine
  • Blood
  • Semen
  • Dental impressions

The information from these particular samples will be stored in a database and can be used to identify you if you get arrested again.

What happens in you’re mentally vulnerable or young?

In the case of those under 17 years of age – referred to as juveniles – and mentally vulnerable people, an “appropriate adult” must be present during any questioning and searching to make sure the accused fully understands what is happening. This is usually a parent or it can be a guardian.

The appropriate adult is not permitted to provide legal advice and cannot stand as the appropriate adult if the person has confided in them anything regarding the offence.

If there is no parent or guarding or social worker available to act as the appropriate adult, then the police will most likely select an “impartial adult” from a volunteers list to perform the task.

What happens after the interview?

Once the interview has commenced, if there is not sufficient evidence to charge you with then you will be released on police bail, this means that you will have to return to the station when asked to complete further questioning.

If there is sufficient evidence, you will be charged and if the police feel that you pose a risk of committing further offences, failing to appear in court, intimidating other witnesses or obstructing the course of justice then a conditional bail can be imposed. This means that your freedom will carry some restrictions for example a curfew if your offence was committed at night.

If you have been charged with a serious offence, your release may be refused and you will probably be remanded in custody until trail. If you are then found guilty the time that you have already spent in prison before your trail will be deducted from your final sentence.