Chapters

Information cards and pamphlets are available from community legal centres that set out what to do in the case of arrest.  These may be useful particularly for vulnerable groups with little knowledge of the law or police powers. There are several rights and obligations that you have when under arrest. You should:

  • Be polite and courteous
  • Refrain from being rude
  • Not resist arrest, as this can be the basis of a further charge against you

You are obliged to:

  • Give your name and address
  • Your age if you are on a licensed premise
  • State your source of supply if you are found in possession of drugs

You have the following rights:

  • If you are under 16 years of age, ask to make a telephone call
  • If you are over 17, you can ask to make a telephone call, but in some situations can be denied
  • Ask for bail
  • State clearly that you won’t answer any questions until you have spoken to a lawyer
  • Silence – you do not have to say anything

If a police officer asks a person “to accompany them to the station” and they do not want to go, they should ask whether they are being arrested. If the police officer says they are being arrested, the person should ask “what for?” as the police are bound to tell them. The person can also ask the police officer to identity themselves.  If the police say they are not arresting the person then the person may walk away.
Where a person has been arrested and suspects that the arrest is not lawful, verbal objection should be made as frequently as possible, preferably in the presence of independent witnesses.

In almost every case, it is advisable to make some independent person aware of the fact of the arrest and of where the person is being held. A lawyer should be contacted and requests for the presence of a lawyer should be made (see below).

No attempt should be made to resist the arrest. It is up to the police officer to decide whether a suspect is to be arrested or summonsed. The conduct of a person will often influence which course the police adopt. In the case of minor offences, polite conduct towards the police may prevent a charge being laid at all. Co-operation with the police is always advisable where there is nothing to be lost by co-operating.

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