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How Long Can Police Detain You – Know Your Rights When Arrested

If you’re wondering how long can police detain you, the simple answer is that it depends on the seriousness of the crime but generally the police can detain you for up to 24 hours before they either have to charge you with committing a crime or release you.

If you are suspected of committing a serious crime such as murder, then the police can apply to hold you for up to 36 or 96 hours, and if you’re arrested under the Terrorism Act, the police can detain you without charge for up to 14 days.

When Do You Need Solicitor?

If you have been arrested then you should seek legal advice as soon as possible. Caddick Davies is a firm of experienced motor defence solicitors specialising in representing motorists who have been detained by police when suspected of committing motoring offences, released pending further investigation or later charged with a motoring offence.

With the skills of an experienced solicitor you stand the best chance of ensuring that your rights are met throughout the arrest and custody process as well as having a reliable person to represent you if charges are made and you need to attend Court.

Our team at Caddick Davies have successfully defended many motorists and can offer a no-obligation consultation to discuss your case.


Contact Caddick Davies Solicitors today

Send us a message or call us on 0333 443 2366 for friendly advice


When Can Caddick Davies Help?

Everybody must be treated fairly and within the limits of the law when an arrest is made and a suspect is detained in a police station.

  • If you have been arrested, detained and questioned regarding a motoring offence and suspect that your rights surrounding this process have been breached, then Caddick Davies can help you. 
  • If you have been arrested on suspicion of committing a motoring offence and need advice during the process or a reliable defence in court, then Caddick Davies assist you.

Our experienced motoring defence solicitors will work to put together a case that aims to have the charges made against you dropped on a technical ground such as your rights when not being upheld, or overturned due to lack of evidence. If you do need to go to Court to face prosecution, then we will provide a strong defence that aims to keep any penalties and any sentences passed to you as lenient as possible.

Having an experienced motoring defence solicitor on your side can help to ensure that police remain accountable for their actions, ensure that key details in the paperwork are not missed, and can ensure that all of your rights will be met throughout proceedings.

Read on to find out more about what happens when the police detain you and how a solicitor can help you if the police fail to treat you correctly during this time.

What Happens When You Are Detained By The Police?

How long can police detain you

  • Questioning
  • Fingerprints, photos and samples
  • Your rights will be read to you

When you are arrested, you will be taken to a police station for questioning about the crime that you are suspected of committing. Before the police are ready to question you, you will be held in a custody cell, should have your rights read to you by the custody officer and will have your possessions taken away to be stored safely on your behalf until you are released.

When being questioned, the conversation will be recorded but you don’t have to answer any questions if you don’t want to. This should be explained to you by the police officer questioning you by them reading the following police caution;

“You do not have to say anything. But, 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.”

Although you don’t have to answer any questions, if you later end up in court and share information then that you didn’t share in the initial questioning, then the judge might not view this favourably and question your reliability.

Whilst at the police station, police have the right to take photographs, fingerprints and DNA samples from a mouth swab, hair root or skin swab even if you don’t agree. If you are under the age of 16, then a parent or guardian’s permission is required first.

Both the offender and a senior police officer must permit intimate samples such as blood, urine or dental impressions to be taken. This permission is not needed when collecting the samples concerning suspected drink or drug driving offences.

After this initial up to 24-hour detainment period is over, the police will need to charge you with an offence or apply for more time to question you further.

What Are My Rights?

Folder with the title know your rights

When you are detained in custody by the police, you must have your rights explained to you by the custody office.

Your rights in these circumstances are as follows;

  • You have a right to free legal advice
  • You have the right to have your solicitor present and talk to them in private
  • You have the right to tell somebody where you are
  • You have the right to receive medical help if you’re feeling ill
  • You have the right to request to view your rights as a written notice. This can be requested in your language and you can also request an interpreter to explain the notice to you.

During your time in custody, the police must follow strict codes of practice as outlined in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984

If you are under 18 years old or considered to be a vulnerable adult then the police must try to contact your parent, guardian or carer. When minors or vulnerable adults are detained, the police must also find a responsible adult to be present during any questioning that takes place and for any searches of your person that will take place.

How To Get Legal Support In Custody

When detained by the police, you have a right to receive legal advice before you are questioned and you can access the legal support you need in a variety of ways.

  • You can ask to see the police station’s ‘duty solicitor’. This person will act independently from the police and is available 24/7.
  • You can ask the police to contact your solicitor if you already have one
  • You can tell the police you would like free legal advice and the police will contact the defence solicitor call centre for you (DSCC).

Once you have asked to receive legal advice, the police are not allowed to question you until you have received it with a few exceptions.

When To Get Legal Help

If you have been arrested or charged with any offence, including a motoring offence, then you must seek legal help as soon as possible.

Legal support from an experienced solicitor will give you the best chance of ensuring that your rights are met throughout the arrest and custody process as well as having a reliable person to represent you if charges are made and you need to attend Court.

It is a good idea to have legal representation when being questioned as the solicitor will be able to ensure that you’re not pressured into saying anything that may incriminate you further or harm your defence later in court, as well as gather information on what happened during your arrest and questioning.

A good solicitor will be invaluable in helping you to remain calm and ensure that your legal rights to relevant information and explanations about what is happening to you are not infringed upon.

Can I Get Legal Support After The Arrest?

As you have a right to legal advice during the custody period, we would always recommend seeking the support of a solicitor specialising in the area of law that you are suspected of committing an offence whilst still in police custody. If for any reason you do not have access to an appropriate legal representative at the time of your arrest, then yes, you can seek the support of a solicitor after your arrest.

In the case of this happening, it is important to provide the following information to your solicitor to give them the best chance of helping you to reduce or overturn any charges made against you using technical and factual defence.

  • Explain exactly what happened in the lead-up to your arrest
  • Explain what happened to you and what you were offered during your time in custody

This type of information will help your solicitor to determine if the police have used their powers fairly and if you were given thorough explanations and access to relevant information throughout the time of your arrest and detention.


Contact Caddick Davies Solicitors today

Send us a message or call us on 0333 443 2366 for friendly advice


Being Stopped By The Police While Driving

Police car pulled up behind a car on yellow lines

There are a huge variety of offences that may lead to you being detained by the police but as specialist motoring defence solicitors, we will now focus on some of the reasons that you might be stopped by the police whilst driving and what actions the police may take if you are caught committing a driving offence.

It’s worth noting that the police do not need a reason to stop you whilst driving or attempting to drive for a routine check but for a vehicle to be searched, they must have reasonable suspicion that the vehicle is carrying a person who has committed or is about to commit an offence.

When stopped, police will usually ask for the driver’s name, date of birth, driving licence, insurance certificate or MOT certificate so they can check if the details you have given match the police and DVLA database.

If pulled over whilst driving, the police can decide to;

  • Take no action against you
  • Issue a fixed penalty notice
  • Issue a warning
  • Issue a vehicle defect rectification notice which requires issues such as a broken brake light to be fixed within 14 days and for you to show proof of this to the police.
  • Offer driver training
  • Charge you with an offence
  • Seize your vehicle – this usually happens when it’s being driven in a harmful way, if the driver is under the influence of drink or drugs, or if the driver doesn’t have insurance or a driving licence.

Generally speaking, police will issue fixed penalty notices for fairly minor driving offences such as careless or inconsiderate driving. using a mobile phone while driving, not wearing a seat belt, driving too close to another vehicle.

For more serious offences such as causing an accident or death by dangerous driving, drink driving or driving under the influence of drugs, then you are likely to be arrested at the scene and detained for further questioning as outlined earlier in this article.

Driving Offences That Could Lead To Being Detained

In the UK, you can be arrested for many different motoring offences. Whilst minor offences are usually dealt with via a warning, driver training, or notices that require you to get your car fixed, more serious offences may lead to you being detained such as;

  • Driving without insurance
  • Driving without a licence
  • Speeding excessively
  • Operating your vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

These offences will often lead to you being released under investigation (RUI) where you are free to go after being arrested but with your case still under consideration. RUI was introduced in 2017 to make it easier for the police to investigate crimes. Find out more about being released under investigation here.


Contact Caddick Davies Solicitors today

Send us a message or call us on 0333 443 2366 for friendly advice


Related Questions

What To Do When Stopped By The Police 

If you are stopped by the police when driving or otherwise, you should always stay calm, and be patient and polite.

Your conduct when dealing with a police officer can have a big impact on the outcome of the stop. If you are verbally abusive or violent, this will escalate the situation, whether you’re innocent of any suspected crimes or not.

When stopped by the police, we recommend that you:

  • avoid confrontation, either physically or verbally
  • ask for the grounds (or the reasons) as to why you’re being stopped and what they are suspected they may find.
  • ask for a search record if the officer ends up searching you
  • When you or the vehicle are searched, the places being searched should match what they are looking for.
  • A search record will provide you with proof that you were stopped, the reason for the stop. any actions that are taken, and the time and date it occurred. Remember to make a note of the officer’s badge number should you need to make a direct reference or complaint to the stop and check that the record matches the reasons given to you verbally.

Your rights:

  • You do not have to give your name and address when stopped unless the officer notifies you of an offence that they suspect you of committing.
  • You can complain if you feel that you have been discriminated against or if the officer who stopped you abused their authority. Police wear body cams and footage is retained for 30 days.
  • If you would like to make a complaint about your arrest then you should follow the process and advice outlined here on the website.

What If the Police Mishandled My Case? 

If you suspect that your case has been handled incorrectly by the police, then you should contact a solicitor as soon as possible.

You will need to be able to recount what happened from the point of arrest so that the solicitor can identify any areas that the police may have mishandled and advise you of the strength of the complaint you have.

If the police are found to have mishandled your case, then your solicitor may be able to get the charges made against you dropped without any further action or investigation.

Examples of when police may have mishandled your arrest and could therefore have their case against you dropped include; failing to read your rights and detaining you for longer than they are allowed to.


This article has given you an overview of how long police can detain you, your rights when detained in custody and how a solicitor can help you.

How long police can detain you depends on the seriousness of the crime but police can detain you for up to 24 hours before they either have to charge you with committing a crime or release you. If you are suspected of committing a serious crime such as murder, then the police can apply to hold you for up to 36 or 96 hours, and if you’re arrested under the Terrorism Act, the police can detain you without charge for up to 14 days.

A solicitor can work to minimise the charges made against you, provide legal advice when being questioned and support you in overturning charges if your rights were not upheld during the process.

Caddick Davies are here to help and we can represent you to provide a reliable defence when facing motoring offence charges. We will start every enquiry with an informal discussion to get a clear understanding of your circumstances and are here to answer any questions that you may have in confidence.

Our leading team of motoring offence solicitors at Caddick Davies have a reputation for success when it comes to defending motorists charged with driving offences. We work with clients all over the UK and are rated in the top 20 law firms on TrustPilot.


Contact Caddick Davies Solicitors today

Send us a message or call us on 0333 443 2366 for friendly advice


Motoring Lawyer at Caddick Davies Solicitors
Caddick Davies is recognised as one of England and Wales’ leading motoring law firms, offering specialist Speeding Solicitors, Drink Driving Solicitors & Dangerous Driving Solicitors.We provide advice and representation on all motoring offences including speeding, the avoidance of disqualification on penalty points or “totting up” (exceptional hardship), driving without due care and attention (careless driving), dangerous driving, drink driving, as well as a range of services related to medical revocation of a driving licence.
Neil Davies

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