Police station interviews

Detention at a police station

If you are arrested and taken to a police station, you must be told your rights by the custody officer. These are the right to:

  • have someone informed of your arrest;
  • free legal advice;
  • view the police Code of Practice;
  • medical attention if you’re feeling ill;
  • see a written notice telling you about your rights (eg, regular breaks for food and to use the toilet).

For most offences the police may only detain a person for a maximum of 24 hours without charging them. This can be extended with permission from an officer with the rank of superintendent or above (an extra 12 hours) or a magistrate (up to a maximum of 96 hours). You can be held without charge for up to 14 days if you’re arrested under the Terrorism Act.

If you are not charged with an offence by the time the maximum time has expired, the police must release you.

Police interviews

You may be interviewed by the police at the police station. Your lawyer can be there if you wish and you may take regular breaks. If you have asked for legal advice, the police cannot question you until you have received it (apart from in some very serious cases).

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

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

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

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

    saliva; photos; oral swabs; footwear impressions.

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For more information on:

  • What happens if you’re mentally vulnerable or young?
  • What happens after the interview?