What Are My Rights Under PACE?
If you’re being investigated by the police, or you have been arrested, or invited for an interview under caution, you have specific rights under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE). If you have been stopped and searched by the police, you also have rights under PACE.
If the police do not comply with PACE and your rights are breached, this can be important in your defence – and could even lead to any charges against you dropped. For their part, the police have a wide range of powers in fighting crime, however, PACE exists to balance police powers against the rights and freedoms of the members of the public, including suspects.
What rights do PACE give me?
PACE is very clear on how suspects should be treated. This helps to protect an individual’s human rights and to ensure justice is properly served. There are a range of PACE Codes that regulate police practices in various circumstances.
Stop and search (Code A)
If you are stopped by the police for the purposes of a search, you have the right to ask why the search is taking place. If the officer gives no good reason, the search should not continue.
If the search goes ahead, it must be done responsibly and fairly. This means it must be justified, proportionate and stand up to public scrutiny.
You also have the right not to be discriminated against on the grounds of race, colour or nationality. So if you have been stopped for no other reason that you are black – PACE may have been breached.
At the police station (Code C)
If you are arrested and taken to the police station, you have the right to notify someone of this. You also have the right to be dealt with as quickly as possible and released as soon as possible. If you are to be searched at the police station, you have the right to request a search by an officer of the same sex.
You also have the following rights:
The right to medical treatment if needed
The right to an interpreter to check documentation if needed
The right to legal advice from a solicitor
The right to decent conditions, including access to toilets, washing facilities and clean bedding. You also have the right to at least eight hours of continuous sleep in any 24-hour period
Police interviews under caution
It is vital that the questioning of a suspect during a police interview under caution proceeds in accordance with PACE. You therefore have the following rights if you are to be questioned:
The right to free legal advice before the interview
The right to have a solicitor present at the interview
The right to disclosure of information before the interview as to why the police suspect you are involved in the offence for which questioning will take place
The interview must begin with an officer administering the caution to you before any questioning begins
The interview must be recorded, either in writing or by video
You have the right to remain silent during questioning (though this could count against you)
What if my rights are breached?
If the police breach the requirements of PACE or any PACE Code, the evidence obtained from you during questioning may not be admissible. However, this will depend on the particular circumstances of the breach and the alleged offence. Under PACE, the court can refuse to admit evidence if it was obtained in breach of PACE and admission of the evidence would have such an adverse effect on the fairness of the proceedings that the court ought not to admit it.
It is important that you tell us if you think your rights under PACE have been breached, and we can make a formal complaint to the police.
How can we help?
You have important rights under PACE. If you are a suspect, or you have been invited to a police interview under caution, contact the experienced criminal defence solicitors at Qamar Solicitors for urgent advice and representation.