Being arrested can be a traumatic event depending upon the specific circumstances.
Sometimes an arrest can occur as a result of an ongoing situation and the arrest may not be a shock, however you may be arrested completely out of the blue due to an unknown allegation communicated to you by officers at their first meeting with you. Either way you need to know your rights.
What does being arrested actually mean?
If you’re arrested, you’ll usually be taken to a police station, it is likely you will be held in custody in a cell, and then interviewed under caution. Being arrested simply means that the police have the right to detain you for questioning.
For police to make an arrest, there are certain conditions that need to be met. These conditions are set out in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE). The full text of the PACE act can be accessed online. The section applying to the powers of arrest can be found here.
This act specifies the importance of these conditions being adhered to as being arrested interferes with an individual’s right to liberty, as established within the Human Rights Act 1998.
In summary, in order to arrest an individual, the police must have sufficient grounds to justify interference of an individual’s rights.
One way they can do this is by obtaining a warrant. Warrants are orders issued by a court permitting the police to make an arrest.
However, the police also have the power to make an arrest without a warrant.
To arrest without a warrant, certain condition must be met:
There must be reasonable suspicion that the person being arrested has
committed an offence, has attempted to do so, or is planning to do so
There are grounds for believing the arrest to be necessary
Both conditions must be satisfied in order for an arrest to be made without a warrant. This second condition is referred to as the necessity to arrest. What this means, practically speaking, is that even if there is reason to believe someone has committed an offence, they cannot simply be arrested. There must also be some specific need to do so.
The PACE Act establishes several specific conditions that would make an arrest necessary.
To ascertain a person’s name or address. This would be considered an arrest necessity if the police believed that they were being given false information.
To prevent physical harm. This includes harm to the person being arrested, either from others or from themselves.
To prevent loss of or damage to property. This would particularly apply if the individual had a history of theft or criminal damage.
To prevent an offence against public decency. This only applies if members of the public are going about their business nearby and cannot reasonably avoid the individual.
If there is an unlawful obstruction to the highway. In this case, there should be some indication that the obstruction will continue or be repeated without an arrest.
To protect a child or a vulnerable person. This includes both the physical and mental wellbeing of the person.
To prevent the investigation of an offence or the prosecution of the suspect being hindered. If the police believe the individual would not attend court following a summons.
According to PACE, even in these cases police must consider other practical alternatives to arrest.
Only in the absence of such alternatives is arrest justifiable.
Your rights in custody
The custody officer at the police station must explain your rights. You have the right to:
get free legal advice
tell someone where you are
have medical help if you’re feeling ill
see the rules the police must follow (‘Codes of Practice’)
see a written notice telling you about your rights, e.g. regular breaks for food and to use the toilet or an interpreter to explain the notice
You’ll be searched and your possessions will be kept by the police custody officer while you’re in the cell.
Young people under 18 and vulnerable adults
The police must try to contact your parent, guardian, or carer, if you’re under 18 or a vulnerable adult.
They must also find an ‘appropriate adult’ to come to the station to help you and be present during questioning and searching. An appropriate adult can be:
your parent, guardian, or carer
a social worker
another family member or friend aged 18 or over
a volunteer aged 18 or over
The National Appropriate Adult Network provides appropriate adult services in England and Wales.
Your rights when being questioned
The police may question you about the crime you’re suspected of – this will be recorded.
You don’t have to answer the questions but there could be consequences if you don’t. The police must explain this to you by reading you the police caution:
“You do not have to say anything. But it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence.”
Choosing Taylor Law
Our criminal defence team are knowledgeable and capable and have an excellent track record in mounting robust defences to a range of criminal charges. We understand how difficult it is to be accused of an offence and we will stay by your side throughout to offer support and guidance.
We will make sure we are always available to speak to you, to update you as to progress and the likely next steps, to advise you of your options and to answer any questions you may have.
We have criminal defence solicitors in Middlesbrough, Leeds and London who are experts in the field. If you are the subject of an investigation or allegations of a sexual nature have been made against you, ring us on 0113 532 8100 (Leeds), 01642 221 108 (Middlesbrough) or 0203 780 7646 (London) or fill in our Contact Form.