1. Speak to the Custody Officer over the phone:
Imagine – you receive a phone call. It’s a member of your client’s family. Your client has been arrested. He is being held in a police station. The family member is able to tell you the police station where your client is held – but not what he has been arrested for.
Your first job is to find out why your client has been arrested.
You pick up the phone and call the number for the relevant custody suite. You may dial 101 which is the national, non-emergency police line.
After some time, you make it through to the custody sergeant who is on duty.
You must tell the Custody Officer to note in the custody record that you have been contacted and that your client should not be interviewed until you arrive .
You then have the right to ask for basic information about the case – such as the time of arrest, the time your client arrived at police station and the time their detention was authorised. Attached to this course is an ‘initial call record’. This is the kind of document that a solicitor would fill in on first making contact with a client in custody.
2. Speak to your client over the phone (remember that police officers may be able to hear the suspect’s side of the conversation):
First, check that the suspect wants legal advice and understands that it is free. Your contact who called you initially may not know that your client has arranged alternative representation.
Tell them not to say anything until you arrive.
Tell them not to sign anything, particularly not police notebooks until you are able to attend. Explain that there could be particular legal ramifications for signing anything presented to them by the police officers. Try to make them feel comfortable rather than paranoid. The police are not normally in the business of trying to trip clients up – but of course your client should be wary of saying anything to officers outside of a formal interview setting.
Check that they have been informed of their rights by the Police.
3: Consider the possible future funding of the case.
Clients are entitled to free legal advice at the police station. This is funded by the Legal Aid Agency. If your client is intending to have his police station advice publicly funded, then you will need to ‘log’ the case with the Defence Solicitors Call Centre. They will provide a reference number which you will need in order to bill the case.