People's rights if they are arrested

People are often held at a police station while they wait to be questioned. This is known as being in custody. In this situation everyone has rights.

These include being able to get in touch with a friend or a family member, and also having access to legal advice.

The Government has a guide called 'Being arrested: your rights', that tells you what the rights mean, and the process that the police use.

Getting legal advice in custody

People in police custody have the right to free legal advice before they are questioned by the police. This advice is usually provided by a 'duty solicitor' which is a lawyer who advises people in custody.

The police will sometimes contact a service called the Defence Solicitor Call Centre, to arrange legal advice to be provided for the person being held in custody.

Some people prefer to get legal advice from their own lawyer. They are responsible for paying for any costs of that advice themselves.

Being held in custody

In most cases the police can hold people in custody for up to 24 hours. After that time the person must be charged with a crime or released.

In some cases the police can apply to extend this time period, usually if the suspected crime is serious.

Getting more information

For more information about your rights and the custody process, another good place to start is with the government official site Have a look at their "Being arrested: your rights" page.