The custody officer at the police station must explain your rights. 


You have the right to:

  • get free legal advice 
  • tell someone where you are 
  • have medical help if you’re feeling ill 
  • see the rules the police must follow (‘Codes of Practice’) 
  • see a written notice telling you about your rights - eg regular breaks for food and to use the toilet (you can ask for a notice in your language) or an interpreter to explain the notice


You’ll be searched and your possessions will be kept by the police custody officer while you’re in the cell.

Young people under 18 and vulnerable adults


The police must try to contact a parent, guardian or carer if you’re under 18 or a vulnerable adult.

They must also find an ‘appropriate adult’ to come to the station to help you and be present during questioning and searching. 


An appropriate adult can be:

  • a parent, guardian or carer 
  • a social worker 
  • another family member or friend aged 18 or over 
  • a volunteer aged 18 or over 


The National Appropriate Adult Network provides appropriate adult services in England and Wales.


See more on this guidance here.