What happens if the Police arrest me? Do I need a solicitor? How do I get a solicitor? What happens at the Police Station? How long will I be there?
These are just some of the questions you may well ask, and which this Guide will endeavour to answer together with many others. It is not just the guilty who find themselves “helping the Police with their enquiries” – it is as well that we all know a little about the procedures and our rights, just in case it happens to us.
Police investigations frequently follow upon reports of crime or complaints made which identify potential suspects in circumstances where it isn’t necessary to make an arrest. In such cases the Police will invite someone to attend the Police Station at an agreed date and time for the purpose of interview. Such an attendance is voluntary. You will not be arrested or detained. You have exactly the same rights whilst at the Police Station as if you were under arrest. Importantly you are entitled to have a solicitor who you can contact and ask to attend with you. Alternatively you can ask the Police to arrange for a solicitor to attend with you.
Although you are attending voluntarily rather than being under arrest, you will still need advice and assistance and the protection which having a solicitor with you provides. It is always important to have a solicitor if you are to be interviewed under caution. Everyone is entitled to free legal advice in these circumstances.
At The Police Station
If you are arrested you will be taken to the Police Station. In Leeds the main Police Station is a large new building opposite the Leeds United ground at Elland Road.
Upon arrival you will be “booked in”. This involves the custody staff taking your details, noting the reason for your arrest, conducting a search to remove property other than your clothing i.e money, jewellery, phones, medication etc. This will be kept safe and, unless required for further investigation, will be returned to you when you leave.
There will usually be a delay before any interview takes place. The reason for this is to allow the Police to take statements, conduct searches, and generally gather information to enable them to conduct an interview with as much information as they can gather at this stage. This can involve delays of several hours.
You will be kept in a cell. Although the accommodation is basic, it will be clean and you will be in a room on your own, not with others. You will be provided with food, drink and if necessary medical assistance. The custody staff have a responsibility to care for you and there are very detailed rules they must follow.
During the booking in process you will be informed of a number of “rights”, the most important of which is the right to have legal advice, that is the right to have a solicitor to advise and represent you at the police station.
The Police have a responsibility to take good care of you during your detention. This includes the provision of medical treatment if required and basic rights to food and drink.
By far the most important right which will be explained to you at the time you are booked in and again when you are interviewed is the right to free and independent legal advice.
It is important that you inform the Police at the time you are booked in that you require a solicitor.
If you ask for Harrison Bundey we will be notified, usually within minutes, and will endeavour to speak to you by phone as soon as possible, and will communicate with the Police to ensure that we are present to see and advise you before any interview takes place, and to be present throughout the interview procedure.
You can ask for any solicitor you choose. If you don’t have a solicitor you can ask for a “Duty Solicitor” to represent you. This will be an independent defence solicitor in the area. Duty solicitors are not employed or linked to the Police in any way, but of course to ensure you are represented by someone you know and trust it is best to ask for someone or a firm by name. Harrison Bundeys have a dedicated team of lawyers who are available 24 hours a day to respond to requests for assistance at Police Stations.
What To Expect At The Interview
Your arrest or voluntary attendance, if you are the subject of a police investigation, will invariably involve/require an interview “under caution”. If you attend voluntarily then this will take place shortly after you arrive. If under arrest then, as explained above, there may be a delay which can be several hours before the police are ready to interview you. In this case they will notify your solicitor and agree a time for him/her to attend for that purpose.
Disclosure – Firstly, the Police will sit down with your solicitor and will provide information about your arrest, the offence being investigated and generally disclosure of the matters to be raised in interview. How much they disclose can vary case by case.
Consultation – Your solicitor will then be allowed a private consultation with you. This enables your solicitor to tell you everything that has been disclosed by the police, to see what you have to say about what has been disclosed/what has happened etc, and to advise you how to deal with the interview process. Anything discussed by you and your solicitor is confidential and your solicitor will not disclose anything you say to the police without your express permission.
The Interview – At the beginning of any interview you will be reminded of your right to have free legal advice and representation and will be formally “cautioned”. You will be cautioned in the following terms “You do not have to say anything when questioned but it may harm your defence if, when questioned, you fail to say something you later rely on in Court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence”.
In simple terms you don’t have to answer any questions put to you. That is your absolute right. There may be circumstances where you may be advised not to answer questions or you may not want to. It may be that you don’t want to say anything that might get someone else into trouble; it may be that you don’t have sufficient information about what the Police know or don’t know; it may be that you are not feeling well or not up to answering questions for a variety of reasons.
It may be in your best interests to answer questions. It may be appropriate to provide a written statement, drafted by you and your solicitor, instead of answering questions. These are matters your solicitor will be able to discuss with you in private, and he/she will be able to advise you about how best to deal with the interview
There are four potential outcomes following your interview;
- You may be charged with an offence. A decision whether or not to charge may require a referral by the Police to their lawyers, the Crown Prosecution Service. This can take a little time and may result in you being kept at the Police Station, if under arrest, until that decision has been confirmed. This can take an hour or two but not generally longer than that.
- You may be told no further action is to be taken, in which case you will be released there and then.
- You may be granted “police bail”, which simply means you will be given a notice providing a future date when you will be required to return to the Police Station, usually to allow the Police time to make further enquiries. There may be conditions of your bail that you are to adhere to whilst the investigation is completed.
- You may be “released under investigation”. This simply means that you are released and will be notified at a future date when the police
have been able to investigate matters further or spend time deciding what they are to do. This is a very frequent outcome and in such cases it can often be many months before you hear anything further. In such cases, should the Police contact you further, perhaps suggesting you attend for a further interview, then you should notify your solicitor to ensure that he/she attends with you again. The next contact may be a summons/postal requisition sent to you with a date for you to attend court. The police do not notify your solicitors separately about this so ensure that you contact your solicitor to attend court with you.
How Long Can Police Keep You?
The maximum time the Police can detain you at the Police Station is 24 hours. That period can be extended up to 36 hours if an officer of the rank of superintendent or above authorises it.
In certain circumstances, in very serious cases, the Police can ask the Magistrates Court to extend the period of detention up to a maximum of 96 hours. Such cases are very rare and there have to be very compelling reasons to justify such an extension.
Bail Or No Bail?
If you are charged with an offence following interview then you will be provided with a Charge Sheet setting out the specific charges you are to face. The Charge Sheet will set out the requirement for you to attend the Magistrates Court, with a time and date for the hearing.
Usually someone who is charged will be released “on bail”, which simply means that there is a requirement to Attend the Magistrates Court as detailed in the Charge Sheet. That will be on a date usually a few weeks ahead.
In some cases, usually serious cases, or in circumstances where the Police have good reason to suspect that someone will not attend Court if released and bailed, or if there are substantial grounds for believing that someone will commit further offences if bailed, The Police can detain a suspect until the following morning, or to the next available Court date ( if over the weekend). This means that you would not be released by the Police and the decision regarding release and the grant of bail will be taken by the Magistrates Court.
Contact Harrison Bundey:
Telephone: 0113 200 7400
Emergency 24 hour arrest helpline: 0113 399 6181