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Getting Arrested
Being booked in In the cell Being interviewed Fingerprints, DNA etc. Being Released Recommended Solicitors

Sometimes, due to circumstances beyond your control (and of course, sometimes due to circumstances within your control…) you find yourself being arrested on a demonstration. The main things to remember are:

# Don’t panic- it’s not that serious and the chances are you will be in the pub with your friends having a laugh about it within 6 hours

# Try to relax and stay calm.  Think of it as a rest before you go home

# Stay quiet – give your details and then answer NO COMMENT to ALL other questions, both in the interview and elsewhere

# the only information you have to give them is your name and address and date of birth

# EVERYTHING they say to you is a lie and/or part of a dirty trick

# Ignore any threats they make to try and get you to do something. If they want you to do something that badly, you really shouldn’t do it. Their threats are empty anyway.

# most arrests turn out to be wrongful and/or people are found not guilty when (and if) taken to court

# Remember the principle of non-cooperation. Don’t sign anything (there is one exception to this- see below), answer any questions, or do anything they tell you to unless you have to, and don’t accept a caution.

The general procedure to expect if you get arrested is as follows:

The Arrest

You should be told what you are being arrested for, so if you are not sure ask them. The officer should caution you ‘You do not have to say anything but it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something that you later rely on in court.  Anything you do say may be used in evidence.’ (We do not have the right to silence in this country any more – you can remain silent, and it is strongly advised that you do, but a court can make inferences from your silence). You may be handcuffed. You will probably be put in the back of a van and taken to the nearest police station.

Holding cells

On arrival at the station, you may be placed in a ‘holding cell’ – a small room about the size of a toilet cubicle - until the custody sergeant is ready to book you in.

Being booked in

This is when you give your name, address and date of birth. Technically, you don’t have to give any details (i.e. it’s not an offence not to), but they do need to establish your identity (unless you’ve been arrested to prevent a BOP), so you may as well tell them. They will ask other questions, such as your occupation, height, shoe size, whether you have any scars or tattoos - just say NO COMMENT to these. Ignore any threats they may make such as ‘we’ll keep you in ‘til Monday and put you before the magistrates’, or ‘if you don’t become more co-operative we’ll put you back in the cell’ or ‘if you don’t tell us your height, we’ll put you up against the wall’ or ‘if you don’t tell us we’ll strip search you’. They are just bullies and they are lying. They may try and search you to find identifying marks and scars, but a search of this kind has to be authorised by an inspector. You will be told of your rights, which are 1) the right to contact a solicitor, 2) the right to have someone informed of where you are, 3) access to their rule book, The Codes of Practice. You can also request writing materials. Any property you have will be taken from you and recorded. They may also take any clothing from you that can be used to harm yourself, such as belts, cords, and shoes with laces. You can only be searched by an officer of the same sex. You will be asked to sign various things, but you do not have to do so. If you have been injured by the police during your arrest you must ask to speak to a doctor who will photograph your injuries. You should also inform the custody sergeant if you need any medication, and if you have dietary requirements (such as being vegan).

In the cell

You will be taken to a cell. You can request a blanket and water to drink. They have to feed you at meal times. If you have special dietary requirements, they have to accommodate this. When in the cell, just relax, try to sleep, meditate, do yoga etc. Try not to think about the fact you are locked up, as this can cause you to get anxious. Remain calm. You may be in the cell for several hours, but remember you will get about £300 per hour of custody if you are successful in sueing them.

Being interviewed

If you are interviewed, you will be taken from your cell to an interview room. There will be 1 or 2 officers and a tape recorder. Say NO COMMENT to all their questions. You may confirm your details if you wish, that’s up to you, as long as you say no comment to everything else. Some people are completely silent, and some sit on the floor under the table. You choose the style of non-cooperation you’re most comfortable with. This cannot be emphasised enough. They will tell you that the interview is your chance to put your side of the story; it is not. Do not make the mistake of thinking that this is all some big mistake, and if you just explain everything to the nice police officers, they will let you go.  Anything you say that helps you, they will ignore, and anything they can twist to make it sound bad and use against you they will use.  They are not interested in finding out the truth; they have a one-track mind focussed entirely on convicting you, and are only looking for evidence they can use against you.  Most convictions come about through things people say in interviews. The interview is for their benefit, not yours, and you cannot say anything in the interview that will help you.  The principle of the interview, as far as the police are concerned, is that they haven’t got enough evidence on you yet to convict you, but they’re hoping you’ll give it to them. is not the time that you need to defend yourself – that opportunity arises when and if you are taken to court, and by then you will have had plenty of time to get legal advice and prepare your defence. As mentioned earlier, a magistrate can make inferences from your silence, but this preferable to talking in the interview and saying something that can be twisted to sound incriminating, or giving them useful “intelligence”.  You might think some of their questions are harmless, and be tempted to answer them.  However, this is a ploy to get you talking because once you start talking, it’s hard to stop again.  It is also harmful to answer some questions and not others (makes you look suspicious), so answer none of them.  They will remind you throughout the interview that you may harm your defence by not mentioning now something you rely on in court, but ignore this.  They might say your friends have all admitted everything, so you might as well. Don’t fall for the oldest trick in the book, which is for them to pretend they know something anyway, to fool you into talking about it. They want you to talk; that means you should stay silent. SAY NO COMMENT TO ALL THEIR QUESTIONS.

Fingerprints, DNA etc.

The police have the right to take your DNA, fingerprints and photograph. They can use force if necessary to do this, which can include breaking fingers. Again, you will be asked other questions, such as your height, shoe size, your favourite TV programme. You do not have to answer these. The people taking your fingerprints are not usually police officers; they may try to get you to relax by being friendly, asking you harmless questions, and then asking you what you were doing. Don’t talk to these people. They are in a police station and can’t be trusted. Ignore any threats they make – they are lying.

Being Released

You will usually be released within 6 hours. You will be taken back to the custody sergeant’s desk. Your property will be given back to you, and you should check that it is all there. Ask for a receipt for anything they have kept as evidence. The only thing worth signing is your bail sheet (if applicable). They don’t like it if you refuse to sign it and often threaten to keep you in if you don’t. I don’t know whether or not they can do this, so I sign it. You can request a copy of your custody record; this is particularly useful if you think you will be sueing them for false imprisonment (see section 5). There are several options that they can take when you are released:

a) You are released with no further action taken (NFA’d).

b) You are charged with the offence and given a date when you must appear at court. You may or may not be given bail conditions, and if you are you will be asked to sign a bail sheet about them.

c) You are released on bail, pending further investigation. This is known as ‘Delay-charge bail’ (DCB).  They do not have enough evidence to charge you and want more time to “investigate”. You will be given a date when you must reappear at the police station to find out if you are going to be charged.

d) You are reported for a summons – they want to charge you, but know they don’t have enough evidence, so they send the case to the bods at the Crown Prosecution Service to see if they can come up with anything on you. Generally speaking you do not receive a summons.  If you do, you should normally plead not guilty.  The chances are you really are not guilty and haven’t really committed an offence in which case they don’t have enough evidence to convict you, and you will be found not guilty.  Many cases are dropped just before the trial for lack of evidence.

e) They offer you a caution. This means YOU HAVE WON: DO NOT ACCEPT THE CAUTION. Cautions are offered when they want to charge you, but know they won’t get anywhere with it because of lack of evidence or because your arrest is unlawful. They want you to save them embarrassment and help their crime statistics by admitting your guilt (accepting a caution involves admitting guilt). Cautions are for their benefit, not yours. Refuse to accept the caution and you will be released without charge or given a fixed penalty (which you don’t pay-see below). Theoretically, if you refuse a caution you could still be charged, but this is very unlikely. They will make lots of threats about going to court if you don’t accept a caution, but they are lying.  They will tell you you’re getting off lightly by taking a caution, and they’re being nice to you.  Remember, the police are not nice; if they could charge you with something, they would.

f) For public order offences you can be issued with a fixed penalty notice. You are given 28 days to pay it or contest it (i.e. ask for a court hearing).  Fixed penalty notices are given for similar reasons as cautions; they know they shouldn’t have arrested you, but they’re hoping you’ll just pay. DO NOT PAY IT, ALWAYS CONTEST IT. In principle, you may receive a summons but this is unlikely for the reason just given.

It is an unwritten rule that if you are arrested, there will always be someone there to meet you when you get out. Preferably with food. If you are worried about this, discuss it with your friends before you go on the protest.

Recommended Solicitors

Never, ever, ever, ever have a duty solicitor. You might as well ask the police for legal advice. If you say “no comment” during the interview, you don’t really need any legal advice. However, if you are worried about anything, use a recommended solicitor for advice. You can speak to them over the phone and it should be in private. You can use any of the solicitors below. The police may try to bully you into having the duty solicitor. Ignore any threats they make to try and get you to use the duty solicitor. Typically these threats go along the lines of it taking a long time to get hold of your solicitor. They’ll tell you if you have the duty solicitor you’ll be out really quickly. Remember, if they want you to have the duty solicitor, that’s a very good reason not to have him or her.

Birds Solicitors
Tim Greene
1 Garratt Lane
SW18 2PT
020 8874 7433
Out of hours arrests: 07966 234994

Banner Jones Solicitors

Kevin Tomlinson

Marsden Street, Chesterfield.

Tel: 01246 209773

Gavin Haigh
Clarence Road
S40 1XB
Tel: 01246 211006
Fax: 01246 209786

Sonn MacMillan Solicitors

Tim Walker
19 Widegate Street


E1 7HP, Tel. 020 7377 8889

Bindmans Solicitors

Mike Schwarz & Shauna Gillan

275, Gray's Inn Road, London, WC1X 8QB

Tel: 020 7833 4433

Kelly’s Solicitors
Lydia Dagostino & Teresa Blades
9, St. Georges Place, Brighton, East Sussex BN1 4GB

Tel: 01273 674898

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