When the police need to make an arrest, there are specific arrest procedures that need to be followed. Once arrested, the police take the suspect under the care and control of the law, which means that the suspect loses certain freedoms like being able to come and go as they please. The arrest procedure does however leave the suspect with certain basic human rights to protect them against unreasonable treatment. Here are some of the rights of suspects during arrest procedures:
At the police station
- A suspect can see a solicitor free of charge.
- He or she has the right to inform someone of their whereabouts.
- The suspect must be read a copy of the codes of practice and procedures.
- The suspect should be given a written note of their rights and cautions.
The suspect can only be detained if the police are looking for more evidence to charge them with. If there is enough evidence, it is likely the suspect will be charged immediately. The arrest procedures state that someone cannot be detained any longer than 24 hours without being charged or released. However, if the offence is very serious, a more senior officer in the police station can authorise detainment for up to 96 hours.
Upon questioning, there are rights for the suspect. The suspect must inform the police of their name and address but from that point, the suspect has the right to remain silent. However, if the person does decide to stay silent during the arrest procedure, it may be used against them in court at a later date. If the suspect fails to answer questions in court, then the magistrates or jury can use this to support their belief of the suspect being ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’.
Anyone being held at a police station is entitled to free legal advice from a solicitor. The solicitor can give advice to the suspect throughout the procedure after arrest. In regards to very serious offences, the police may reserve the right to delay a solicitor if they think it will affect the gaining of important evidence.
During the procedure of arrest and detainment, the suspect is likely to be questioned. The interview is usually recorded but this is not a legal requirement. If the interview is not recorded, then the officer in charge should be making notes.
Fingerprints and photographs
If the police believe a suspect is involved in a crime, they have the right to take fingerprints. However, until charged or cautioned, the police cannot take a photograph without the consent of the suspect.
When a police officer believes a suspect has committed a crime, they must give an official caution. The officer delivering the caution also has to let the suspect know that it may harm their defence if they do not mention when questioned, something which could later be relied upon as evidence.
After the procedure of arrest and interview, if the police found enough evidence to prove the suspect has committed a crime, they will be charged. The suspect will then become a defendant and have to attend a court case at the magistrates’ court.