Letter of rights for persons detained for offences connected with terrorism

Letter of Rights containing information about a person's rights when detain in relation to terrorist offences.

Your rights

Please note: In exceptional circumstances, the police have the right to delay or withhold your access to some of these rights. For example, if the police think they need to speak to you to stop another person being hurt. This does not include your right to silence.

1. Information for people held in police custody

Right to silence

You do not have to answer any questions the police ask you about what they think you have done.

Anything you do say will be written down or recorded and could be used as evidence at trial, if your case is taken to court.

You do have to tell the police your name and address, date of birth, place of birth and nationality when they ask you for these details.

Telling a solicitor you are at the police station

You can ask the police to tell a solicitor that you are at the police station. This can be your own solicitor or, if you don't know a solicitor, the on-call solicitor. The police will arrange for a solicitor to be contacted as soon as possible. This is free of charge.

Telling someone else that you are at the police station

You can ask the police to contact someone else to tell them that you are at the police station. They could be someone in your family, your partner, your carer, your friend or another person you know. They will contact someone for you as soon as they can.

If you are under 16 (or under 18 and subject to a compulsory supervision order):

  • The police must try to inform your parent or guardian that you are at the police station.
  • Your parent or guardian can come and support you at the police station.

Getting an interpreter to help you

If you do not speak or understand English, the police will arrange for someone who speaks your language (an interpreter) to help you. This is free. It is important that you can understand what is being said at the police station.

If you are deaf or have trouble communicating clearly, the police will arrange for someone to help you. This could be a BSL interpreter or another appropriate professional. This is free.

If you are not British

If you are not British, you can ask the police to contact your High Commission, Embassy or Consulate, to tell them where you are and why you are in the police station. They can also visit you in private and arrange for a solicitor to see you.

What happens if you are charged or brought into custody on a warrant?

If you are charged with an offence, you may be released from custody or you can be kept in the police station and taken to court on the next working day. Or you may be released if you agree to go to court on a fixed date.

Access to documents

A note of evidence in the case will be given to you or your solicitor if your case goes to court. This will allow you or your solicitor to prepare your defence.

You have the right to a translation of the relevant information if you do not understand English.

If you are ill or injured

The police will ask you questions about your health and wellbeing. The police may ask a medical practitioner to examine you. This is to help make sure you are looked after properly while in custody. If you feel you need to see a medical practitioner then tell the police. Should you fall ill, you will be provided with medical assistance.

Food and Drink

Water will be provided to you on request. You will be offered food if you are in custody for more than a four hour period. If you have any dietary or religious requirements then tell the police as early as possible.

2. Information for people who are going to be questioned by the police

Getting a solicitor to help you

  • Tell the police if you want to speak to a solicitor. The police will contact a solicitor for you as soon as possible.
  • The solicitor will tell you whether they can advise you for free or if you will have to pay for advice. If you have to pay, they will explain how much it will cost and how you can pay for it. The police will not pay for your solicitor or talk about how your solicitor gets paid.
  • The police are not normally allowed to ask you questions without a solicitor if you have asked for a solicitor to be in the room with you.
  • Sometimes the police urgently need to ask you questions before you have talked to a solicitor.
  • Speaking to a solicitor does not make it look like you have done something wrong.
  • You can change your mind about speaking to a solicitor at any time. Tell the police as soon as possible and they will contact a solicitor for you.
  • A solicitor's role is to protect your rights and give you advice about the law.
  • You can choose to speak to a solicitor you know or the on-call solicitor. This solicitor is independent and does not work for the police.
  • If a senior police officer gives permission, a uniformed inspector may be present during consultation with your solicitor.
  • You are allowed to have a private conversation with a solicitor.
  • You can ask for the solicitor to be in the room with you when the police ask you questions.
  • If the solicitor does not come to the police station when they said they would, or you need to talk to the solicitor again, ask the police to contact him/her again.

How long can you be detained for questioning?

The police can detain you for questioning for up to 48 hours without charging you with an offence. Every so often a senior police officer has to look into your case to see if you should still be detained. This is called a review. You can only be detained for longer than 48 hours if a court allows it. The court can extend the period of detention without charge up to a maximum of 14 days from your arrest. In these circumstances you must be given the following:

  • A written document that the application to extend your detention has been made;
  • The time the application was made;
  • The time the application is to be heard in court and
  • The reason(s) further detention is sought.

A notice must be provided to you (and your legal representative) each time an application is made to extend or further extend your detention.

You and your solicitor have the right to have your say about this decision, unless you are not in a fit state. A solicitor can advise you about this.

Independent Custody Visitors

There are members of the community who are allowed to access police stations. They are known as Independent Custody Visitors and operate on a voluntary basis to make sure that detained people are being treated properly and have access to their rights.

You do not have a right to see an independent custody visitor or ask them to visit you but a visitor may ask to see you. If an independent custody visitor does visit you while you are in custody they will be acting independently of the police to check that your welfare and rights have been protected. It is your choice if you wish to speak to them.


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