What happens if you're arrested by the police? Part 3

01 March 2018

If you haven't read them yet, check out Part 1 and Part 2 before you continue

Consultation with the legal adviser

Once the legal adviser has obtained disclosure from the police, you will have a private consultation.  The reason for the arrest and the disclosure will be discussed.  The legal advisor will ask you for an account of the alleged incident and will provide advice regarding the law and the forthcoming interview.  There may be a number of issues to resolve but, generally, the most important issue relates to the decision whether to answer questions or to maintain the right to silence.  Giving a no comment interview can have repercussions further down the line and the legal advisor will explain these.  However, it should not be assumed that saying nothing inevitably means that you are guilty.  It is the reason for the decision to remain silent that matters. 

The interview

The interview will be recorded in accordance with PACE Code E.  The legal advisor will generally remain with you throughout the interview process and will assist with any issues that arise. 

After interview, the investigating officers will report a summary of the interview to the Custody Sergeant.  They may then leave the Custody Block in order to seek advice from their superior officer or from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).  During this period, you may have to wait back in a cell. 

The options for the police at this stage are to charge you with an offence or offences, bail you for a period of time to allow for further investigation (generally up to 28 days), release you without charge (while the investigation may continue) or to formally take “no further action” where the case will be effectively closed.  

Release from custody

Before being released from custody, you will have your finger prints taken (usually on a machine which doesn’t involve the use of ink), a DNA sample taken (a mouth swab) and a photograph taken.  The police have the power to carry out these functions without consent. However, your consent will be required to allow a custody assistant to carry out these functions.  This is normal procedure in most custody centres. 

Before being released, the Custody Sergeant will return to you any property that was taken when you were booked in, less any items which have been seized as potential evidence.  If you have been charged with any offences, you will be provided with a copy of the charge sheet and bailed to attend court on a given date and time.  If you are bailed for further investigation, you will be given a bail sheet, informing you when you must return to the police station.  Since a change to the law in 2017, the majority of arrested persons are now released pending further investigation.  This means being released without bail and without a specific return date.  In those cases, if a decision is later taken to prosecute for an offence, you will either be invited to voluntarily attend the police station to be charged or you will receive through the post a requisition to attend court.  

In some cases where charges are brought, the police may decide to remand you in custody, to be produced before the next Magistrates’ Court. That will generally only occur in particularly serious cases or where you have a very bad criminal record or a history of failing to surrender to bail.  The vast majority of charged persons will be bailed to attend court. 

How can Old Bailey Solicitors help? 

If you are arrested, you can request the services of Old Bailey Solicitors when you are booked in at the custody desk.  The police will contact us on your behalf. 

If you are invited to attend the police station for a voluntary interview, you can let us know and a member of our team will attend with you.  We will even make the arrangements for you if you prefer. 

If you have been arrested and bailed or released pending further investigation, you can contact us here to arrange an appointment or to request that we attend with you on the next occasion. 

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