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What to expect in Police Custody Representation and Guide

If you are arrested by the police, you will usually be taken to a police station, held in custody and interviewed by the police. We know how confusing and scary this can be, both for those arrested and their loved ones. This Guide deals with representation and your legal rights. We are regarded as one of the best and leading solicitors firms for Police Station Representation for Legal Aid and on an Enhanced Private Basis.


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The following advice guide is intended to offer a basic overview of what to expect when arrested, your rights following arrest, what happens in a police interview and the possible outcomes following a police interview. Legal Aid at the Police Station is Free.

For immediate experienced police station representation for any type of criminal charges, please call 07836 577 556 24/7, 365 days a year.

We can also offer An Enhanced Private Client Service for self-funding clients.

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Why choose JD Spicer Zeb?

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What happens when you are arrested?

When you arrive at the custody suite of a police station, you will normally:

  • Be booked in by the police custody officer on duty
  • Be searched and your possessions kept by the police custody officer, including your mobile phone
  • Have your photograph taken
  • Have your biometric data, including your fingerprints and DNA samples taken (DNA may be taken with a mouth swab or a head hair root)
  • Have swabs of the skin on your hands and arms taken
  • Have your belt and shoelaces taken before you are placed in a cell
  • Be placed into a cell to await interview

How can we help?

Common questions

We always work with the most experienced and best leading UK barristers, KCs (Kings Counsel). We cover all criminal cases 24/7 at the police station and court. Offices in London, Birmingham, and Manchester cover cases across England and Wales. We can offer Legal Aid and affordable Private fee agreements. We can see you the same day, including virtually. Our Senior Partners supervise all of our cases.

How quickly do you respond?

We respond quickly even during out of hours. We do not get our work by paying for online adverts but based on the fact that few criminal law firms can match our 45 years of experience. Most of our cases are still from word-of-mouth recommendations from satisfied clients. We are called daily by dissatisfied clients from firms with less experience than us. We respond very quickly to new enquiries. We know what clients seek and so we update clients rapidly.

Can you get cases dropped?

Yes, read about the recent cases we've helped our clients with here.

We always keep you updated and give straightforward advice. We will get cases dropped early where the case is weak or should not be prosecuted. We will be upfront with you about where you can benefit from a good result with an early guilty plea, such as a discount on your sentence. As we work on cases across all levels with clients from all walks of life, we are excellent at giving clear, spot-on advice. As an established firm, we can allocate a whole team to your case often at short notice to secure evidence to minimise the damage to you. 

Have you won any awards?


"JD Spicer Zeb demonstrated a clear commitment to client service through their work with vulnerable and diverse individuals in what can be severely traumatic circumstances".

Do you offer free consultations?

Where it is possible, we aim to provide an initial consultation to you. If we can speak to you, we can if required inform you about  –

  • Whether we can take the case on and our relevant experience.
  • Public and private funding benefits.
  • Assistance in applying for legal aid where we are likely to accept instructions.
  • An outline of options in police interview only. We will not advise you on which option to adopt.
  • Providing our free written guide explaining the police station process.
  • The gravity of routine and day-to-day offences you face.
  • Consequences of not attending the court or police station.
  • Consequences of interfering with any witnesses.
  • Retaining any evidence in support of your case.
  • If possible an outline of the elements of the offence that the police or CPS must prove.
  • This consultation will normally be by telephone or email and will only be for as long as we deem necessary to establish if we can act for you. If we cannot usefully give you any advice in this manner then we will not continue with the consultation. We will not discuss the case in depth for you to be able to decide on your plea or any significant aspect of the case, as this cannot be undertaken informally.
  • Referring you, if possible, to other firms for matters out of our specialism or if we cannot help.

Consultations do not apply to the following cases –

  • If we do not intend to take the case on.
  • Road Traffic cases, drink driving, drug driving, driving bans, speeding, no insurance, mobile phone use, points etc.
  • In all cases where we do not have the capacity to take your case or the availability of suitably qualified staff to provide an initial free consultation. This is applicable in all cases but especially where a more senior lawyer is required because of your personal needs or the complexity of the case.
  • Harassment/stalking/ coercive behaviour/malicious communications or road traffic cases and most sensitive cases. These cases are often too complicated to assess in short consultations.
  • The locations concerned may be too distant to represent you adequately or it may not be cost-effective for you or us.
  • The case is too complicated to assess or raises various charges or facts, complexity, or history to be considered informally or in a short consultation.
  • In most Legal aid transfers where legal aid is granted to another firm except in very grave cases, we may assess the case and merits for a transfer.
  • If your relationship has broken down with your existing solicitor or several solicitors.
  • If you have been released under investigation and have already had a police station attendance. 
  • If you hold legal aid with another firm and seek a second opinion.
  • If you are calling on behalf of the client as a friend or family member unless you have full authority and full facts.
  • To businesses.
  • Advising whether you were given good advice by your other solicitor.
  • Whether to decide to plead guilty or not guilty.
  • Whether you have an arguable defence in law or factually complicated defences.
  • Any advice you have had after your first court appearance.
  • Any advice on appeal on conviction or sentence.
  • If we feel we are unable to communicate with you.
  • If we are likely to be conflicted or breach our professional rules.

Understanding your rights when in police custody

When taken into police custody, you have the right to:

  • Free legal advice (either from the duty solicitor available or another legal representative of your choosing)
  • Refuse to answer any questions until your legal adviser is present
  • Receive legal advice promptly (except in exceptional circumstances, where a senior officer can authorise withholding legal advice for a maximum of 36 hours after arriving at the custody suite or 48 hours for suspected terrorism offences)
  • Change your mind at any time if you initially choose not to have a legal representative
  • Have someone notified at no cost to you that you have been arrested and are in custody (please note, you do not have the ‘right to a phone call’ under English law)
  • Have an appropriate adult (such as a parent, guardian or carer) present during searching and questioning if you are under 17 years old or are a vulnerable adult
  • Refuse to give a blood or urine sample (except in relation to drink and drug driving) or to have dental impressions taken

The dangers of talking to police ‘informally’

If you are contacted by police, whether over the phone or in person, for a ‘chat down the station’, you should be extremely careful. While you may be under the impression this is an informal chat to ‘get your side of the story’, it can be very easy to accidently incriminate yourself. In some cases, even things you say over the phone can later be used against you.

Our advice – never speak to the police without your lawyer present

Any communication you have with the police, whether over the phone, in person or in writing, should always be done only after you have taken advice from your lawyer and only in the presence of your lawyer.

Even if a police officer tells you that ‘you don’t need a lawyer’, that ‘you’re not a suspect’ or ‘waiting for a lawyer will just slow things down’, you should always insist on having your lawyer with you before saying anything.

How long can you be kept in custody at a police station?

The length of time you can be held in custody without being charged with a crime will depend on the type of offence you are suspected of having committing.

The time limits are:

  • 24 hours for most crimes
  • After 24 hours your further detention of up to 36 hours must be authorised by an officer of the rank of superintendent or above.
  • Detention without charge beyond 36 hours can only be authorised by a Magistrates’ Court in respect of serious crimes e.g. murder. You can not be kept longer than 96 hours.
  • For terrorism offences (under the Terrorism Act) you can be detained without charge initially for 48 hours, but this can be extended to up to 7 days with judicial authority and then a further extension of up to 21 days can be granted with further applications.

What happens during a police interview?

There are three main stages to the police interview process:

Disclosure – The police will provide information about the offence or offences you are suspected of committing to your legal representative without you present. Police can and usually will withhold information such as witness statements and other evidence at this stage.

Client-solicitor consultation – You and your legal representative will be able to speak alone in a private consultation room at the police station. This allows your lawyer to explain the allegations you are facing and gives you a chance to respond to those allegations.

Our advice - comment or no comment
The advice we give at the Police Station is confidential and should not be discussed with the Police or any third party. Upon analysis of the disclosure given, our experienced representative will advise you accordingly whether you should:

  1. Answer ‘No comment’ to questions.
  2. Answer Police questions.
  3. Serve a prepared statement outlining your defence.

Your representative will advise the best option for you in the circumstance based on the case.

The interview – You will be asked questions by one or two police officers in a recorded interview in the presence of your lawyer.

Before your interview, you should be cautioned with the following words:

“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.”

What are the possible outcomes following a police interview?

Following police interview, there are four basic outcomes that could occur:

Released with no further action

This means the police accept that you have not committed a criminal offence or at least that there is no realistic prospect of them proving that you committed an offence.

Released under investigation

This means the police still suspect you may have committed a criminal offence, but they do not currently have enough evidence to charge you.

You will be released, but may be called back to a police station or custody suite at a later point for further questioning.

Released on bail pending further enquiries

This is the same as being released under investigation, except that you will be placed on ‘pre-charge bail’, meaning conditions can be placed on your release e.g. that you must stick to a curfew or not associate with certain people.

You will not have to pay to be released on bail pending further enquiries, but you can be arrested for breaching the conditions of pre-charge bail.

The police must now consider releasing suspects on Pre Charge Bail where a case is ongoing. The police must follow a set of rules by law. Read more about the recent Pre-Charge Bail law updates here

Charged with a crime

If you are charged with a crime, the exact details of the crime you are being charged with will be set out in a charge sheet and you will be required to sign to say you have been told about your charge and your subsequent Court date.

You will then either be kept in police custody or released on bail until an initial court hearing can be held to decide what happens next.

If you are refused bail and kept in police custody, you must be produced before the next available Magistrates’ Court.

If you are released on bail, the police may set conditions on that bail e.g. to have a curfew, avoid associating with or contacting certain people, visiting certain areas etc.

What happens when you are being released from police custody?

If you are due to be released from police custody, you will go through a standard pre-release process. This includes:

  • Your possessions being returned (apart from items that are being kept as part of an ongoing police investigation)
  • Being allowed to phone a friend or family member to arrange transport home
  • Being issued with a travel warrant for public transport (if you cannot arrange your own transport)
  • The conditions of your bail being explained (where relevant)

Get immediate, expert police station representation any time of day or night

For urgent specialist advice and immediate representation for any type of criminal charges, please call 07836 577 556.

For non-emergency advice and representation, you can contact a member of our dedicated team of criminal defence lawyers in London, Birmingham, and Manchester by telephone on:

  • City of London: 0207 624 7771 - our senior Solicitors and Partners can meet by appointment in the City.
  • Brent & Camden London Office: 020 7624 7771
  • Manchester Office: 0161 835 1638
  • Birmingham Office: 0121 614 3333

Or email: solicitors@jdspicer.co.uk

Alternatively, you can fill out our quick online enquiry form, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

How can we help?

  • Umar Zeb
      • Umar Zeb
      • Senior Partner - Head of Private Client Crime
      • 020 7624 7771
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  • Lisa Nicol
      • Lisa Nicol
      • Managing Partner - Head of Crime & Serious Cases
      • 020 7624 771
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  • James O'Donnell
      • 020 762 47771
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  • Sanjay Cholera
      • 020 7624 7771
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  • Peter Mulhearn
      • 0207 624 7771
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  • John Geraghty
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  • Danny Parkash
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  • Mimma Sabato
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  • Richard Souper
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  • Jonathan Lynn
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  • Samuel Oduntan
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  • Barry Linnane
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  • Stuart Lloyd
      • 020 7624 7771
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  • Robert Wong
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  • Maeve Carroll
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  • Rebecca Forbes
      • 0161 835 1638
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  • Sachelle Gilbert
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