As part of a criminal investigation or in other circumstances we may exercise our powers of arrest, provided it is necessary to do so.
If you have been arrested, we will take you to a custody suite within a police station and you will be treated with fairness, courtesy and respect.
You will be met by custody staff and introduced to the person in charge of the custody suite, known as the Custody Sergeant. The Custody Sergeant is primarily concerned with your welfare in custody and is not involved in the investigation of your case. They will ask the arresting officer questions about your arrest to make sure they are satisfied that your arrest and detention is absolutely necessary.
When you are in custody a number of things will happen:
- You will be asked about your physical and mental health so we can look after you properly.
- You will be asked about any alcohol or drugs (prescription or otherwise) you may have consumed prior to your arrest.
- You will be asked if you have any allergies or food intolerances.
- You will be searched for any items which could be used to harm yourself or others.
- Your property may be taken from you for safekeeping. Anything taken from you will be recorded and stored securely until you are released. If we seize any of your property as evidence you will be informed.
- Your clothing may be taken. This may be due to its condition or seized as evidence. If this happens you will be provided with clean clothing and given the opportunity to change with some privacy.
- You will be provided with your rights whilst in custody. You have the right to have someone informed of your arrest, you have the right to consult the codes of practice which we have to follow and you have the right to speak to a solicitor. You can use these rights at any time whilst you are in custody.
- If required, you will be seen by a Doctor to ensure your wellbeing and to assess whether you are fit to be interviewed or detained.
If you have a learning difficulty or other condition, you may be treated as a vulnerable adult. In this case you will be given the assistance of person called an Appropriate Adult.
You can suggest the person you would like to do this, as long as they are over 18 years old and unconnected with the investigation, or we can contact the Northern Ireland Appropriate Adult Scheme. They are completely independent from the police and are there to help you to understand what is happening and ensure we are treating you fairly.
You may be required to spend some time in a cell whilst you are detained in custody. The cell will be clean and warm. You will have access to a bed and a toilet. You will be offered three meals a day and provided with a drink if you request one. There may be a camera located in the cell so we can make sure you are safe and well and protect your rights.
Once you are in custody we may wish to ask you questions as part of an interview.
The interview will take place in an interview room and you will have the opportunity to have your solicitor present if you request one. You will be given the opportunity to talk to your solicitor in private before the interview takes place. The interview room will be clean and at a comfortable temperature. There will be enough room for your solicitor and appropriate adult (if needed) to accompany you.
Once the interview process is complete, we will make a decision about the next step. You may be released unconditionally, released on bail or charged to court. The Custody Sergeant will explain what is happening once the decision is made. You, or your solicitor, will have the opportunity to speak to the Investigating Officer and the Custody Sergeant before the decision is made.
Before you are released, you will have your photograph taken. You will have fingerprints taken and a DNA sample will be taken with swabs of the inside of your mouth. We may also ask about any tattoos or scars you may have and record details of these.
We understand that being arrested as part of a criminal investigation may be an upsetting experience for you. If you feel that this may have an effect on your health and wellbeing, you should tell the Custody Sergeant or the Doctor, who will assist you to make contact with help and advice organisations. They are independent from us and will offer support, assistance and guidance when required.