You are entitled to see a solicitor, to have someone told where you are and to read a copy of the procedures for arrest known as the Codes of Practice. You should be given a written note of these rights. If you are unsure about why you have been arrested, or the charge is a serious one, it is better not to answer any further questions until a solicitor is present. You can’t be kept at a police station for more than 24 hours without being charged, although this can be extended to 36 hours with the authority of a police superintendent, and longer with the authority of a magistrate.
Your rights as a trans person in custody
If you are arrested and taken into custody police guidance says that you should also be treated as and addressed in your stated gender, as discussed above. You might be asked to sign a custody record to indicate the gender you want to be treated as. Anyone who is detained would always be accommodated in a cell or detention room of their own.
If you are unhappy about any aspect of the way you’ve been treated by the police or want more advice, contact Galop. Also see the website section on Police Complaints. If you have issues relating to criminal records bureau checks you should see the section on CRB & Gender Identity.
Young people and vulnerable adults
If you are a young people aged under 17 or are a vulnerable adult, an appropriate adult is required to be present during questioning and searching to make sure that you understand what’s happening. This might be, for example, a parent or a social worker. The appropriate adult is not allowed to provide legal advice and can’t perform this role if you have confided in them about the offence that you are being questioned about.
Fingerprints and other physical evidence
Fingerprints and other non-intimate samples may then be taken. These can be taken without your consent and include; fingerprints, oral swabs, saliva (used for DNA samples), footwear impressions and photos. Information from these samples will be stored in a database and may be used to identify you if you’re arrested again. In some cases, intimate samples may be requested, such as blood or semen. These require your written consent plus the consent of the Inspector on duty at the police station before they can be taken.
If there’s not enough evidence to charge you, you’ll be released on police bail. You don’t have to pay to be released on police bail, but you’ll have to return to the station for further questioning when asked. If you’re charged and the police think there’s a risk that you may commit another offence, fail to turn up at court, intimidate other witnesses or obstruct the course of justice, they can impose conditional bail. This means your freedom will be restricted in some way. For example, a curfew may be imposed on you if your offence was committed at night. If you’ve been charged with a serious offence, you may be refused release and remanded in custody until trial. If you are found guilty, the time spent in prison before trial will be deducted from your sentence.