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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-
# 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-
The general procedure to expect if you get arrested is as follows:
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.
On arrival at the station, you may be placed in a ‘holding cell’ – a small room about
the size of a toilet cubicle -
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 -
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.
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-
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.
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-
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-
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.
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.
1 Garratt Lane
020 8874 7433
Out of hours arrests: 07966 234994
Banner Jones Solicitors
Marsden Street, Chesterfield.
Tel: 01246 209773
Tel: 01246 211006
Fax: 01246 209786
Sonn MacMillan Solicitors
19 Widegate Street
E1 7HP, Tel. 020 7377 8889 walkerssolicitors.co.uk
Mike Schwarz & Shauna Gillan
275, Gray's Inn Road, London, WC1X 8QB
Tel: 020 7833 4433
Lydia Dagostino & Teresa Blades
9, St. Georges Place, Brighton, East Sussex BN1 4GB
Tel: 01273 674898