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Police Powers of Arrest and Detention- Your Rights- Glasgow Law Practice Guide.

It is important that a person who is stopped and searched, detained or arrested by police officers knows the powers that the police have and also their own individual rights in such a situation. Our criminal defence lawyers have produced a guide outlining the general position. If you need specific legal advice please contact us.


• The police have various powers to stop and search people without a search warrant if they have reasonable grounds to believe that person is in possession of an illegal item
• The police officers do not need to be in uniform but if in plain clothes they must identify themselves as police officers and provide documentary evidence if requested to do so.
• The search should be conducted in as private a place as possible. The police cannot carry out an intimate search without a search warrant.


• Police officers can stop and search you if you are suspected of committing an offence or if you are believed to be a witness to an offence
• The police must explain their suspicions and you should provide your name and address. Failure to do so is a criminal offence.
• You should be cautioned by the police at common law and you have the right to remain silent.
• The police have then to decide whether to make no charge, detain you for further questioning at a police station or to arrest you. The decision will be made on the basis of available evidence at that time.


• Detained persons must be taken to a police station for questioning
• The detention period is usually for a maximum of 12 hours and can in certain circumstances be extended to 24 hours if a senior police officer considers that is necessary for investigations to be completed.
• As a detained person you have the right to legal advice from a solicitor before and during questioning. You should always request legal advice prior to interview. You have the right to have a solicitor contacted on your behalf and for one other person to be notified. You have no right to make a telephone call personally. Legal Aid is normally available at this stage.
• You continue to have the right to remain silent and you should not be intimidated or induced in any way to answer questions.
• During detention the police have powers to search you, take photographs, fingerprints and a DNA sample. Reasonable force can be used if you fail to cooperate.
• After investigations the police must decide whether to arrest and charge or to release you without charge. You must be kept fully advised as to your status when in police custody eg detained or arrested.


• If you are arrested you must be advised of the charge being made against you. You must be cautioned that you do not need to say anything in response to the charge. You are given the opportunity to reply to the charge. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you do say may be used in evidence against you.
• The police will then decide whether to keep you in custody to appear at court on the next lawful day, or to release you on a bail undertaking which provides a specific date to attend court (usually within two weeks) or to release you with you being advised that the matter will be reported to the Procurator Fiscal for consideration of prosecution.
• At court you again have the right to see a solicitor and Legal Aid is often available at this stage. The Glasgow Law Practice can be contacted on your behalf and we defend accused persons throughout Scotland.


• If you are convicted of the offence your DNA details will be held permanently on the Police National DNA Database. If you are acquitted the DNA details are destroyed. If however you accept an “alternative to prosecution” such as a fiscal fine your DNA will be held on record for two years.


• If you are convicted of an offence that is deemed to be a “football related offence” then the Prosecutor may seek imposition of a Football Banning Order which covers all regulated matches within the United Kingdom. The Prosecutor must apply to the court for such an order to be imposed and legal representations on your behalf can be made to prevent the order being imposed.


This guide is brief in its terms and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Specific legal advice should always be sought. Contact Alasdair Thomson of The Glasgow Law Practice on {{CONTACT_NUMBER_CONTENT}} should you require legal advice on the matters raised.