Just cos you watch detective shows on telly, it doesn't mean you know everything about the police! Get clued-up on police basics here, including the rules of stop and search, helping them with enquiries and the ins and outs of being arrested...
Stop & Search
- This is when a police officer stops you in a public place and searches you, your clothes and anything you're carrying.
- They search for drugs, weapons, stolen property, terrorism-related evidence and/or evidence of other crimes.
- They must have a reason to suspect you before they can do a stop and search.
- But they can stop and search anybody, anywhere for equipment that could be used in a terrorist attack.
- If you refuse to be stopped, the police can use reasonable force to stop and detain you so they can do a search. So don't walk away.
- But you do have rights, which are listed at stopandsearch.com, linked below.
Helping police with enquiries
- If you're asked to go to a police station to help with enquiries, make sure you know if you are being arrested or whether it's up to you whether you go.
- If you're being asked to go voluntarily, you can refuse. But the police may then decide to arrest you, in which case you have to go.
- Even though you're at the police station voluntarily, you're entitled to send a message to your family or a friend telling them where you are and to receive free legal advice from a solicitor.
- If you've not been arrested and go to the police station voluntarily, you can leave at any time.
Rights on arrest
- If you're arrested you have the right to be treated fairly and with respect.
- You must give your name and address, but after that you don't have to say anything. But (as they say on The Bill), if you're later charged with a crime and you don't mention something that you later rely on in court, then this may be taken into account when deciding whether you're guilty.
- If you're under 17, you shouldn't be interviewed by the police without an appropriate adult (i.e. one who knows you) present.
- You're entitled to free legal advice. Every police station has a duty solicitor on hand 24/7.
- You can't normally be held for more than 24 hours without being charged or released.
- You can find detailed info about your rights on arrest at TheSite.org, linked below.