Know Your Rights:

Click on highlighted ‘Know your rights’ to download file on stop and search in the North of Ireland


What to do if you are arrested:

If you’re kept in custody

The custody officer must tell you why you’re being held and explain your rights

The custody officer at the police station must tell you why you’re being held and explain what your rights are. Your rights are to:

get free legal advice – for example, from a solicitor
arrange for someone you know to be told where you are
have medical help if you’re feeling ill – the police arrange this
see the rules the police must follow – these are called ‘Codes of Practice’
see a written notice telling you about your rights – for example, to get regular breaks for food, washing and to use the toilet
You will be searched and any possessions you have will be temporarily taken off you while you’re in the cell.

How long you can be held

The police can’t normally hold you for more than 24 hours without charging you with a crime.

If you are suspected of committing a serious crime (for example, murder), the period in custody can be extended by:

36 hours – by a police superintendent at the police station
96 hours – by a court – the police have to ‘apply’ to a court to do this
After this time, the police must either charge you or release you.

When you are being questioned

The police will question you about the offence they suspect you of committing. The interview will be recorded.

Police caution

Before the police ask you any questions, they have to warn you what can happen if you decide not to answer. This is called the ‘police caution’. The police caution is:

’You do not have to say anything. However, 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.’

If necessary, a police officer or legal adviser can explain what this means.

Your right to free legal advice

While at the police station, you have the right to free legal advice if you’re questioned by police or charged with a crime. You should always ensure you have a lawyer present before speaking to the police.

You can find more details here about how to obtain representation.

This information is from