Police are in their positions to assert the law and if you are in a situation where you have to communicate with the police it is not only important to be aware of your rights but you must assert them politely and calmly. If you confront or question their authority this may not work in your favour.
If you are stopped by a police officer the person has the legal right to gain information regarding your name and address if he or she has reasonable grounds to do so. Even if you think that you have no reason to divulge this information, if you refuse, you are committing an offence.
If a police officer demands that you submit to questioning, you have the right to refuse unless you have been put under arrest.
Normally it is a legal obligation to provide the police with your correct name and address. However, you have the right to remain silent when it comes to further questioning. You have the legal right to refuse to address questions that are asked by police.
It doesn’t matter whether you have been stopped in the street taken down to the police station for questioning or even if you have been arrested, you should not answer any questions or even think about signing a statement until you have talked to a lawyer.
When you are stopped while driving the situation is different and the law requires you to:
provide your correct name and address plus the name and address of the vehicle’s owner;
provide a driver’s licence. If it’s not in your possession at the time you are required to show it within 48 hours at a police station;
The Misuse of Drugs Act states that the police can ask you to provide information about the sale, manufacture or supply of any prohibited drugs or plants. If you don’t cooperate you could be charged.
You can be arrested only if the police believe they have reasonable grounds to consider that you have broken a law. You have to be told clearly on what grounds you are being arrested at the time of the arrest. The police have to ‘caution’ you before formal questioning can take place. This means reciting to you your rights when it comes to questioning and evidence.
Once an arrest has taken place, you can only be held in custody for a reasonable length of time before a charge takes place. The length of time will depend on how serious the offence is. When you are in custody you have the right to ask to make a phone call to a relative or friend or a lawyer. The police have the right to take your fingerprints or take a photograph if you have been put under arrest.
If you are interviewed, you should ask to see a copy of the interview transcript, but you do not have to sign anything.