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First time in custody

The custody sergeant will ask you if you have been in custody before. They will give you are leaflet which outlines some useful information, seen below:

  • Toilet paper, sanitary items and toothbrushes are not kept in the cells, but available on request..
  • Food and drink are available upon reasonable request, with meals normally being supplied at recognised meal times and at other times at the discretion of the custody sergeant.
  • Blankets can be provided upon request. You need to keep your head on show.
  • A detention officer will intermittently check on you, so do not be alarmed when you see the hatch open. You need do nothing unless requested.
  • A limited selection of reading material is available on request.
  • The police station and custody suites are no smoking areas by law.
  • If you have any questions, please ask the custody staff

If you require attention, press the call button located within your cell.

Giving fingerprints, photographs and samples

If you are arrested, the police have the right to take your photograph; fingerprints and a DNA sample (This is normally a  mouth swab). Under certain circumstances they may also request a swab from the skin surface of your hands and arms. They don't need your permission to do this.

If you are arrested for a more serious offence, the police may request a sample of blood or urine; dental impressions or a sample of a more intimate nature. All this would be explained at the time and your permission together with that of a senior police officer would be required.

This authority does not apply when they take a blood or urine sample in connection with drink or drug driving.

A picture in the form of a moving video image of you may be required if during the investigation there appears to be a dispute in the identity of the person suspected of committing the relevant offence. Your consent to take part in this process will be required. However, if you do not consent to take part, the identification officer may select another method to test whether a witness can identify you. View the Pace Code D.

The police can also request you to provide a mouth swab if you are over 18 years or over to test for Class A drugs eg cocaine or heroin. They can also request a sample if they believe that drugs were a cause or contributory factor in your arrest. The police need your permission to take this sample. If you are dependent on drugs, the police will ask you if you would like to speak with a drug referral worker. See the partner agencies supporting the custody process section.

The referral worker is also trained to support persons with alcohol problems.

How long can I be held in custody? 

The police can hold you for up to 24 hours before they have to charge you with a crime or release you. They can also apply to extend this time up to 96 hours if you're suspected of a serious crime. If you are arrested under the Terrorism Act, you could be detained for up to 14 days

Will I be released on bail?

The police can release you on police bail if there is not enough evidence to charge you. However you will have to return to the station at an agreed date and time.

What happens if I am charged?

If you are charged, the police may release you on bail to a court or on conditional bail if they think that you may:

  • commit another offence
  • fail to turn up at court
  • intimidate other witnesses
  • obstruct the course of justice

Can I be held in custody after charge?

The police may remand you to the next available court under the following circumstances

  • you are charged with a serious offence,
  • you have previously been convicted of a serious crime
  • you have been given bail in the past and failed to comply
  • the police believe you may fail to attend on the court date
  • the police believe you might commit a crime whilst on bail