Who can I call after being arrested?

How long, legally, do I have to wait to call my family after being arrested?

You may be familiar with the idea of making a phone call after being arrested. It’s something we often see on TV and in films. But what are the rules around making a phone call when you’re held in police custody in the UK? The Mix explains.

Your right to call someone after being arrested

When you’re arrested in the UK you have various rights, including the right to have someone told where you are. This is usually done with a phone call, but although making contact with someone is one of your legal rights, you’re not always entitled to make this call yourself.

Who you can contact depends on your age

Whether you’re entitled to talk to a family member depends on how old you are. If you’re 17 or under then you’re classed as a juvenile. This means you are entitled to the presence of an appropriate adult or family member during any interview.

If you’re over 17, you’re classed as an adult. Even so, under section 56 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) you are still entitled to contact one person at the earliest and most realistic opportunity. So, if you want to contact a family member, that’s fine.

Who you can and can’t call after being arrested

You can’t contact absolutely anyone you like after being arrested. If the police have arrested you because they think you’ve committed an offence they can refuse your request to contact someone if they believe that such contact could lead to evidence being tampered with, stolen property removed, or if there are drug trafficking issues. This sort of delay can only be authorised by an inspector or more senior officer.

What this means is you probably wouldn’t be able to contact anyone who was with you or close to you at the time of your arrest. Parents, guardians and carers should be fine, although the police may make this call for you rather than allowing you to do it yourself. You will also be allowed to speak to an independent solicitor and you should be allowed to do this in private.

Read more about your rights when arrested or post about it on our discussion boards.

Read more about what to do when you’re in trouble here.

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