Dealing with the police can be at best a hassle and at worst a nightmare. Most citizens of the UK will have to deal with law enforcement officers in some capacity whether or not they are suspected of a crime. However, if you are being suspected of a crime, or just interacting with an officer, knowing your rights can keep you out of jail. It is very important to know when police officers can question you, whether or not you are free to go, when they can legally arrest you, and what is supposed to happen when you are detained. If you suspect the police have violated the law, you could have a powerful tool in your own defence.
A constable with a valid arrest warrant can arrest you. Without a valid arrest warrant, a police officer can only arrest you if you are in the act of committing a criminal offence, they have a reasonable suspicion you are committing a criminal offence, or they have reasonable suspicion you have committed a criminal offence.
However, without a valid arrest warrant, the police can only arrest you on suspicion of criminal offence if they cannot obtain your name or you have given a false name; they cannot obtain your address or you have given a false address; or the arrest is required to prevent you from committing harm to yourself or others.
If you are placed under arrest, police should only use as much force as is reasonable to complete the arrest, then they should take you to the police station as soon as possible. If you are caught committed robbery, but do not have the items in your possession when detained, the police can retrace your steps to find the items. Either way, they should take you to the police station as soon as possible.
Criminal defence solicitors can provide you more complete information about your rights during and after arrest.
Once you are detained by the police at the station, they cannot hold you for more than twenty four hours without charges, unless a magistrate or an officer with at least the rank of superintendent gives consent. A properly ranked officer can permit an additional twelve hour hold and a magistrate can permit an additional ninety-six hours. Once charged, you should appear before a magistrate on the next day that is not Sunday, Good Friday, or Christmas. Throughout the process you have the right to remain silent as well as the right to legal counsel.
The police can question you in regards to a possible criminal offence but only if they caution you first. If you are not under arrest, they must inform you that you are free to leave whenever you please. If you are under arrest, you must be taken to the police station before being questioned. They can interview you before taking you to the station if a delay could harm evidence pertinent to a criminal offence, harm others, or alert others suspected of also committing the criminal offence.