18th February 2019

Being arrested is a scary experience however it is important to remember that whilst in police custody you do have a range of legal rights to protect you from misconduct by the police holding you. These rights are essential in keeping you safe whilst in custody and if you believe any of these rights have been abused, it is important to seek legal advice to ensure the rights are upheld.

On your arrest

A police officer can arrest you with or without a warrant, as long as the arrest is necessary and is legally allowed to use what is known as ‘reasonable force’ in detaining you if under arrest. Reasonable force requires the officer to use the minimum amount of physical force in order to carry out their legal duty.

When you’ve been arrested it’s important that your rights are read to you as soon as possible by the arresting officer. This should include that you are currently under arrest, the offence you have been arrested for, your right to a solicitor and your right not to say anything.

You rights in custody

You can only be held in custody if the custody sergeant accepts that your arrest was necessary and that there are reasonable grounds to believe an offence has been committed.

You are ordinarily only allowed to be held for a maximum of 24 hours, at which point the police must either charge you with an offence or release you. In certain circumstances a senior officer can authorise detention up to a maximum 36 hours. Any detention beyond this can only be sanctioned by a Magistrates’ court in very limited circumstances. There are also review periods throughout any period of custody that must be adhered to.


Questioning a suspect is an important part of the criminal process, giving police vital information regarding the offence committed. However, even during this process you are protected by certain rights.

You have the right to not answer questions during interviews, however this may detrimentally affect your case later down the line. You also have the right to have a lawyer present during your interview, however, you can choose to interview without one.

Vulnerable and young individuals’ rights

When it comes to the rights of young offenders and vulnerable individuals, certain rights must be upheld. Individuals that fall within these categories must have a lawyer and ‘appropriate adult’ present during the interview process.